Posted by Stephan Moskovic | July 12th, 2018

After a very busy six months—a win at the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography in April, a recent runway show during Berlin Fashion Week, a spot among the finalists for this year’s LVMH Prize—Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh, the couple behind the buzzy year-old brand Botter, are finally planning to take a well-deserved vacation to visit Herrebrugh’s mother in the Dominican Republic for two weeks. “We need to just relax and get some new energy,” laughs Botter. But given that the island, along with its Caribbean neighbors, is a source of fervent inspiration for the duo’s designs, it’s hard to believe they won’t be getting some more work done there as well.

Photographer – Lucy Alex Mac for
Stylist – Masha Mombelli
Grooming – Ben Talbott
Model – Xander Hepher

Interview by Jonathan Shia

Born and raised in the Netherlands just a few miles apart, both Botter and Herrebrugh, who have been in a relationship for nine years, trace their family roots to the Caribbean, and that personal history is clear in their bright, provocative, and powerful pieces. Plastic animal floats worn as headpieces and a Shell logo redesigned to read ‘Hell’ nod to the environmental toll of tourism and pollution, while the vibrant colors and generally effervescent vibe hint at tropical climes. The current collection grew out of Botter’s graduation project from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts. “I had three years at the Academy and I experimented with everything and in the fourth year I felt really confident and I had found my own ways of working,” he explains. “It was a really logical step and it was a tribute to my Caribbean roots. It was really organic and honest and from then on we decided that this is really about us. It lays really close to our hearts and this is in our DNA.”
Botter was adept with design from a young age and he recalls cutting up jeans and embellishing them for his neighborhood friends from the age of eight, but he says he originally planned to become a surgeon. He joined the army at seventeen for about a year until he read an article in Vogue about the designer Walter Van Beirendonck, who discussed his work as the director of the fashion program at the Royal Academy. “I was like, ‘What? You can actually study fashion?’” Botter recalls. “So I quit the army immediately and started a technical school to really understand garments and patterns and then I applied and got into the Academy.”

During Botter’s time at the Royal Academy, Herrebrugh, a graduate of the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, moved to Antwerp to be with him and help him with his studies while working as a freelance designer on her own. When he graduated, it only made sense for the two of them to go into business together. The design process passes back and forth between them, with Herrebrugh creating the initial collages and mood boards and Botter drafting the sketches before Herrebrugh takes back over to transform them into three-dimension designs. “We’re really honest with each other and respect each other and I think that’s the most important thing,” Botter says. “We challenge each other by being honest.”

Botter and Herrebrugh are stunned by the attention they have received over the past twelve months and the next twelve promise to be even busier, with an upcoming collaboration with the French brand Petit Bateau and work with Chanel’s Métiers d’Art craftsmen as part of their Hyères prize. “Imagine the iconic things that Chanel does, but done by us in our own way,” Botter hints.

Doing things in their own way is perhaps exactly why the Botter team has achieved such impressive success so quickly already—and it’s clear that they plan to continue doing so in the future. “These are the things that keep us awake at night that we’re thinking about,” Botter says of the ideas that drive their designs. “It’s like a writer writing his book, this is how we express ourselves and really communicate to the rest of the world. For us, it’s the most human thing to do to speak about these things. It’s really like our diary, you could say.”

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