Meet Danie Bles, CEO of Amsterdam Fashion Week

Organizing a Fashion Week involves many different fashion experts who excel in each of their disciplines, from director to designer. Those interested in working in the fashion industry can meet professionals right here on FashionWeekWeb and learn more about the Fashion Week business. With this interview series, FashionUnited looks behind the catwalk to introduce those who bring great fashion events to life around the globe. We recently chatted with Danie Bles to learn more about her role as the CEO of Amsterdam Fashion Week.

Danie, you are working at AFW Studio, can you tell us a little bit about the event?

AFW provides a platform for young creatives and established designers to showcase their creations. In addition to the show concept we launched at Museumplein last September, I wanted to introduce a March edition which gives AFW the freedom to flexibly respond to trends and developments within fashion; a creative hub which presents its visitors with what’s still new and surprising.
The keywords for AFW Studio are inspiration and creation. I aimed at establishing a space with an inspiring, creative atmosphere anyone who loves fashion can experience.
The studio was also created to be a place, creative people can hang out in. Whether you fancy a coffee, want to listen to music, participate in a workshop or enjoy the different expos - it's all possible here. In addition, AFW Studio provides a platform for young creatives and established designers to showcase their creations.

To me, the strength of AFW Studio lies in the fact that each show has its very own design. This way, a variety of brand are enabled to bring their unique vision to life. AFW Studio connects all kinds of creative talent from art and fashion to music. Although the shows are invite only, there are plenty of activities freely accessible for visitors such as exhibitions, the AFW x Libertine Café and Brand Studios, but also the AFW Talks on Sunday March 10 with national and international designers.

A new feature of this event is incorporating the aspects of photography, art and design. One example of this is the continuous exhibition curated by Duran Lantink with the theme 'Manipulator' which is on display at the venue and freely accessible to visitors. The idea of new aspects also extends to the AFW x Libertine cafe as well as the AFW Studio merchandise shop where a selection of books from Mendo will be available to purchase. On the first floor of the Compagnietheater, several brand studios including The New Originals, the launch of Original Courant and a Keva fragrances Perfume Lab are present. Moreover, there is a designer exhibition of second-hand items compiled by the renowned Salon Heleen Hülsmann and ByDanieVintageStore as well as a Wrangler ICONS brand studio.

There are also various activities outside the Compagnietheater such as a studio route where fashion lovers can have a look at different designers. Hudson's Bay is organizing a styling event in all department stores throughout the Netherlands in honor of AFW Studio. On March 10, AFW Studio presents inspiring talks which offer distinctive perspectives onto the fashion industry. Corresponding with the themes Female Entrepreneurship and Sustainability & Innovation, the importance of those topics to the current fashion market will be discussed.

Please tell us about your role at AFW Studio?

As an adolescent, I always dreamt of working in the fashion industry. After a career as a personal celebrity stylist, I ventured into establishing a certified styling school and concepts & events agency. I like to think of myself as a fashion entrepreneur and I enjoy exploring that through my role as the creative director of Amsterdam Fashion Week.

Danie, what do you like most about your job?

The most important thing where I get my energy and motivation is that I can use my creativity in creating various projects. Every day is another day and that challenges me to make the impossible possible when you work hard and keep looking for relevance. Producing AFW is a constant job where we are able to realize dreams. In fashion, there is a lot of movement going on where we can be the spectators of and it's an ever changing business, and that is what it makes it exciting.

What is your professional background? How did you become Creative Director of AFW Studio?

I started working as stylist for TV shows, magazines and productions as Elite Model Look, with whom I still work together for the styling production. After working at Jackie Magazine as a fashion director, I started ByDanie, a creative concept agency that currently specializes in digital concepts, 360º concepts, and events. Under this name we created the ByDanie Collection, The ByDanie Designer Vintage Store and Style School ByDanie where we train young professionals and support them in becoming stylists for magazines, TV shows and personal clients. The next logical step for me was to work on AFW Studio because it is my passion to create hubs where creative people can meet. Of course, at its core, AFW Studio is a platform for young designers, but creating an inspiring space where art meets fashion while still including consumers makes the concept truly complete.

Did you always want to work for a fashion event like the AFW Studio?

Yes. I love to connect with designers, talents, and to learn from each other. And what I like about the concept of AFW Studio is that it highlights all the talent we have in Amsterdam and the Netherlands and that we are able to give them a stage to present their work and vision. We truly have an amazing creative ecosystem and I am really happy that with the AFW platform and via digital innovations we are able to share this more broadly and with a new audience.

What is your advice for those who want to pursue a career in fashion?

Stay true to yourself and your unique style will appear! This not only applies to the way you dress but also in the way you work as a professional. This means that you should always follow your dreams, without losing reality.

Many thanks for your time!

Images: Danie Bles

Read more about Amsterdam Fashion Week here (content in Dutch).