Cover (Photo: Pim Top, courtesy of Wandler)

Elza Wandler behind her eponymous cult accessories label staged an art installation at an abandoned gas station to kick off Amsterdam Fashion Week on Sept 1

Most people will have seen Wandler's Hortensia bag—a rounded shape with trapeze-like corners—on the arms of what feels like every influencer, but many would not be able to guess that the three-year-old cult accessories label hails from Amsterdam. Founder Elza Wandler tells me over breakfast that people think the brand is from London. But all that is about to change, especially after their recent event.

Wandler kicked off Amsterdam Fashion Week on Sept 1 with an art installation, with guests and friends from around the world invited to celebrate the "homecoming" moment. "I'm really glad we were able to put a spotlight on our culture and talent and invite international guests to see what we have to offer," she says.

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After an intimate dinner at Bambino, guests were dropped off at a mysterious park and given glow-up headphones in which a voice repeated the many definitions and connotations of light and colour. The event, after all, was titled, "Without Light, There Is No Colour". 

"When we were invited to kick off Amsterdam Fashion Week, we wanted to do something beyond the product, but that still made sense in the context of our universe," says Joanna Radomska, Wandler's marketing, PR and brand manager. "Then we looked at how the shapes of our bags are quite architectural—they're always something quite graphic in colour and lines—so we wanted to translate that quality physically, which is why we thought the abandoned gas station which was the perfect setting."

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"The brand is very much about colour; every season the colours we choose tell the story," adds Wandler. "Buyers always tell me is that they like the colours I use, that there's something slightly different about them and it's also something I'm super passionate about it. So when my team came up with the phrase: 'Without light there is no colour," I thought that was so beautiful. So then we thought about working with Dutch artist Nikki Hock who works with light so it became a whole conceptual experience."

Guests were ushered to an abandoned gas station in Amsterdam Noord, which began filling with smoke. A series of metallic frames lit up in various colours as the smoke danced between them until finally, a backroom lit up in fluorescent green. Wandler's latest styles like the boxy Penelope bag and Rosa loafers were on display, all in bright apple green. This season also sees Wandler expanding into ready-to-wear starting with a range of denim and leather trousers in various cuts. 

"We decided to use the apple green as the main colour because it was the first colour of our Hortensia bag when we started so it's kind of full circle for us," says Wandler. "It's also a hopeful colour that represents nature, growth, joy and happiness." 

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