Jan Taminiau, fashion designer of the Maxima mail bag jacket

Jan Taminiau, now a well-known name. Everyone knows the jute jacket of our Queen Maxima, made from the mail bags of the former PTT: the mail bag jacket. And her striking royal blue dress during the coronation of Willem-Alexander was also missed by few. You would think that this couturier/fashion designer is already an old hand in the trade, with such a customer base. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jan Taminiau, a relatively young fashion designer from his own country. Once started in the Red Light District, in Ivo Niehe’s TV Show, surprisingly modest and sympathetic. But worldwide and royal success.

  • Mailbag jacket for Maxima
  • Beyoncé and Lady Gaga
  • Royal designer
  • The designs: embroidery by hand
  • How does Jan design couture for clients?
  • Who is Jan Taminiau
  • Motivation of Jan Taminiau: emotional and layered
  • From -almost- antique dealer to couturier, or fashion designer

Mailbag jacket for Maxima

Queen Maxima, still a princess at the time, stood out with her mailbag jacket. As well as fashion designer Jan Taminiau. She wore it with verve during the opening of the Arnhem Fashion Biennale in 2009. The previously relatively unknown fashion label JANTAMINIAU was suddenly in the spotlight with Maxima. From that moment on, Jan Taminiau really received the recognition he deserves with his special creations.

What drove Taminiau to make a jacket from old discarded mail bags? Jan loves beauty, but also the ephemeral. That can also be beautiful. Moreover, the bags have carried so much human joy and suffering, from love letters to tax assessments. Taminiau thought they deserved a second life. Worn with gold trousers and high heels, it looked fantastic on her. However, the idea of a princess with an old mailbag was a huge contrast, daring but ingenious. Maxima wore the jacket again later: at an Armin van Buuren concert in New York. Nowadays the jackets are for sale: a women’s version with the colors of the Argentine flag around the waist, and one for men with the Dutch colors. Maxima’s original jacket bore the Dutch colors: of course it is ‘ours’.

Cover of Beyoncé with JANTAMINIAU shoes

Beyoncé and Lady Gaga

After Maxima’s success, other celebrities soon found their way to JANTAMINIAU. According to Jan, because they are extremely alert to interesting creations and can quickly find their information through their large network. Participating in the Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week twice a year certainly contributes to his international fame. Singer Beyonce appeared on the cover of her album in his sky-high ‘double’ shoes. And colleague Lady Gaga has already opted for a dress by Taminiau twice. Jan simply calls the worldwide success ‘surreal’. But the long working days of often 16 hours undoubtedly contribute.

Royal designer

However, the mailbag jacket was not Jan’s only royal design for Maxima. Following soon:

  • the royal blue dress for the inauguration of Willem-Alexander
  • the red evening toilet for the King’s Canal
  • the golden dress on Budget Day
  • and for Luxembourg’s Princess Claire, her wedding dress for the church blessing

Would you quickly become embarrassed by so many royal questions, but that is not for Taminiau. When asked by Ivo Niehe why the sign ‘Court Supplier’ was not yet on his door, Jan was unable to answer. Modesty is a credit to Jan, who, even a bit shy during his presentations, quickly disappears to the back after bowing.

The designs: embroidery by hand

Jan doesn’t like things simple, you won’t find dresses like that from him. Edited, embroidered, layered, and everything made by hand. It is clear that this requires many human hands: 80 people worked on two dresses for Maxima. Often exuberant designs, but in accordance with the customer.

However, he really goes all out for shows. Those dresses can be even grander because ‘no one has to wear them in the car or on the bike, those dresses only have to be beautiful on the catwalk,’ says Taminiau.

How does Jan design couture for clients?

Jan Taminiau ‘reads the customer’. How does she come in, what does she radiate? He immerses himself in the customer by asking questions, based on which he chooses a design direction:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you want to be? – essential for the design
  • What can you be?
  • Where are you going?
  • What impression do you want to make there?

Because people often have a different image of themselves than the outside world, all this information together is necessary to create a design that suits each customer. Jan calls it a game with the customer.

Who is Jan Taminiau

Jan was born in Goirle, where he was fascinated by design and colors from an early age. He did not play with cars but had dress-up parties with his sister Maartje, resulting in photo shoots. He completely stripped his boys’ room until he was left with a bare wall and a worn wooden floor. He thought it was beautiful, with character. He is also dyslexic, but that has never hindered him, perhaps even helped him. He does not think in words, but in shapes and colors. This is how he also ‘reads’ his customers.

Motivation of Jan Taminiau: emotional and layered

Taminiau calls himself slightly stubborn. He loves beautiful things, but also the decay and beauty thereof. Such as the peeling of a tree bark and the variety of colors that are released. This had already inspired him to design a design. He likes elaborate creations, enriched with many elements. Layering, that’s what he likes in life. Not simplicity but peeling back layers, that keeps life exciting and dynamic. He mainly designs for women. And even states ” A good dress can do more for a woman than the plastic surgeon “.

From -almost- antique dealer to couturier, or fashion designer

Taminiau, not a standard Dutch name. The surname Taminiau is of Belgian origin and probably derived from the town of Tamines, which is located on the Sambre between Charleroi and Namur. Born into a family of antique dealers, he first studied at the European School of Antique Dealers in Antwerp, after which he graduated cum laude from the Art Academy in Arnhem in 2001. Two years later he obtained a master’s degree from the Fashion Institute of Arnhem. That same year he founded his own fashion label JANTAMINIAU and started his business in Tilburg, around the corner from his parents. In 2004 he gave his first presentation during the Amsterdam Fashion Week. He stood out there, because he was the only Dutch designer who was allowed to put on a show in Paris in 2007. In 2008 he moved his company to the Red Light District in a former whorehouse, as part of the Red Light Fashion project. When his contract in the Red Light District was not extended a few years later, he moved to rural Baambrugge, close to Amsterdam. Where there is complete peace and quiet in the greenery, he designs his romantic and exuberant creations. More contrast is hardly possible.

Couturier, he doesn’t like that word. He himself says: “Couturier is an eroded concept in the Netherlands. In France, couture must meet certain standards, but in the Netherlands this is not necessary. I think it is a word from a different time. I prefer to call myself a fashion designer who makes beautiful dresses. I keep it easy.”

Jan Taminiau is unique in his generation because he makes custom work for a select group of customers. With his label JANTAMINIAU he will certainly be heard and seen in the coming years.

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