On the occasion of the centennial celebrations of Wageningen University and Research (WUR) we were commissioned to design a piece for the circular ensemble of WUR’s chairman Louise O. Fresco.

Louise O. Fresco during her speech

Yesterday was the opening of the academic year. Louise Fresco gave the openings speech where she looked back on the 100 years of Wageningen University but with emphasis on the future. Instead of buying a new outfit for this special occasion, Louise wanted to wear an outfit she could wear without guilt. That’s why we and other Dutch designers were invited to create a piece of sustainable clothing for her.

Our silk scarf dyed with bacteria


As part of the Living Colour project I work on together with Ilfa, we have recently found a way to dye larger pieces of fabric in a uniform, all-over manner with pigment-producing bacteria. We dyed the scarf in a beautiful colour lavender. The colour was created by mixing pink and purple bacterial pigment. We used ahimsa peace silk for the scarf, meaning that the silkworms are not killed in the process of spinning the yarn, in contrast to regular silk where the cocoons are boiled with the silkworm still in them, so they can develop to become butterflies. The silk is ecologically cultivated as well. 

The scarf really complimented the outfit. Louise described wearing the scarf as “the scarf gives you wings”. Which is also a nice reference to the wings the silkworms grow eventually.

Louise O. Fresco and Mark Rutte with us in the background


Prime Minister Mark Rutte was also present at the opening of the academic year. After his speech Louise guided him to our exhibition to show him how and who made this outfit. We were happy to hand him the first pocket square we made dyed by bacteria. He was very surprised and enthousiastic! And we were quite honoured to present him some of our work.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte with our pocket square


The dress for Louise is designed by Elsien Gringhuis. She is known for her timeless designs, which are produced in The Netherlands. The dress is made of deadstock silk and designed with sewing patterns where a minimal amount of fabric is wasted. The dress also didn’t have buttons or zippers.
Aliki van der Kruijs created the print for the fabric, by painting the silk with residual ink from the digital textile printing industry. Aliki saw those ink residues on the side of the textile printer; a beautiful dark colour purple. This leftover ink is normally processed as chemical waste, but Aliki found a way to reuse this residual flow and reduce the footprint of the industry.


Designer Luc Aarts made gold-coloured pineapple leather shoes. Piñatex, as the new material is called, is made from the leaves of pineapples. This by-product of pineapple cultivation is a natural and 100% biodegradable alternative to leather. The gold coating however is not sustainable yet. At the final fitting the shoes turned out to be too loose. “We had unfortunately measured her feet on a hot summer day”, says Luc. That and because of the ungiving characteristics of the material the shoes ended up too big in the end.” As an alternative, they decided to ornate a pair of Fresco’s own shoes with a gold detailed heel of Piñatex.


The last durable detail is the watch strap from a vegan leather alternative designed by Iris Houthoff, lecturer in Bio Process Engineering at WUR and founder of start-up Mylium. The strap is made from mushroom mycelium, a fungus derived from the Ganoderma lucidum mushroom. In Asia, that mushroom is used to extract a bitter medicinal tea. Houthoff: ‘Mycelium grows on residual flows, hardly consumes water and is treated with harmless chemicals.’


Watch the video of the behind the scenes making of the circular outfit for Louise Fresco.


The outfit was commissioned by:

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