Red Light District… Fashion?

“No photos!” jokes a man and his friends walking by me in De Wallen, the neighborhood of Amsterdam that is home to the Red Light District I was touring during a study abroad program this fall. I reply “Real funny!” and resume taking photos. He is right, though. Photographing the ladies of the Red Light District is strictly prohibited in Amsterdam, and I just happened to be standing right next to one of their windows with a camera in hand. But it is not the girl of pleasure I am photographing on this particular sunny afternoon. It is the fashion boutique right next door that I am documenting. In 2008, Dutch fashion talent incubator HTNK launched the Red Light Fashion initiative when the City of Amsterdam and housing corporation NV Stadsgoed decided to loan a part of the window area to the creative industries. The city began subsidizing rent for local fashion labels to bring more diverse foot traffic to the city’s more notoriously seedy area. Four years later, the Red Light Fashion initiative has put Amsterdam on the international fashion map and maybe even cleaned up the city’s image.

  Amidst heaps of city trash, a Red Light Fashion promotional poster lines one of the doorways in one of Amsterdam’s Red Light alleyways.
Window shoppers can enjoy couture garments like this fringe dress and accompanying flamingo in the Red Light District.  
  Ignoor Studio, one of Amsterdam’s premier Red Light Fashion labels, stands out amongst the cities longstanding brothels.

 

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