Adventures in Spakenburg

Posted on by Phuong Mai

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From the canals to the sweet stroopwafels, the Netherlands has served as a constant source of inspiration for us at P.MAI. On one particular adventure, we took a jaunt over to the small Dutch fishing village of Spakenburg. Though a quick 40-minute drive from Amsterdam, Spakenburg has an entirely different vibe. Whereas Amsterdam is a careful amalgamation of the old and new, Spakenburg feels like walking through a history book.

To get a better sense of the area, we visited the quaint Museum Spakenburg. The museum was set up by residents of the town who wanted to preserve the area’s culture and history. It is housed in a church annex, where a series of rooms present Spakenburg’s history through artifacts of clothing and household objects. Here, the female staff all wore traditional Dutch clothing. Many of them worked tirelessly on the exhibits, even painstakingly painting replicas of ancient Dutch floral patterns on plates and fabric.

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We were lucky enough to have one of the museum attendants explain the nuances of one of Spakenburg’s most traditional pieces of clothing to us: the kraplap. This signature shoulder cover has a stiff structure and usually adorned with beautiful floral patterns. She explained that the kraplap is always worn with a black skirt and shirt with checkered fabric sleeves attached with safety pins. An apron is also worn with the outfit, varied according to the day of the week; on work days, the apron is of checkered fabric, on Sundays only the top is of checkered fabric and starched, and the bottom is dark blue. And hair is always worn up in a bun underneath a starched lace cap. In periods of mourning, the kraplap would be a darker colored floral pattern.

While Spakenburg is one of the only towns where women still wear traditional Dutch dress in their daily lives, the prevalence of the clothing is decreasing and some worry that soon the dress will be confined to history books. To remember our time in Spakenburg and support the efforts of the local community to preserve their traditions, we bought some traditional kraplap fabrics in the gift shop with hopes to use it for a future project. 

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From the canals to the sweet stroopwafels, the Netherlands has served as a constant source of inspiration for us at P.MAI. On one particular adventure, we took a jaunt over to the small Dutch fishing village of Spakenburg. Though a quick 40-minute drive from Amsterdam, Spakenburg has an entirely different vibe. Whereas Amsterdam is a careful amalgamation of the old and new, Spakenburg feels like walking through a history book.

To get a better sense of the area, we visited the quaint Museum Spakenburg. The museum was set up by residents of the town who wanted to preserve the area’s culture and history. It is housed in a church annex, where a series of rooms present Spakenburg’s history through artifacts of clothing and household objects. Here, the female staff all wore traditional Dutch clothing. Many of them worked tirelessly on the exhibits, even painstakingly painting replicas of ancient Dutch floral patterns on plates and fabric.

image

We were lucky enough to have one of the museum attendants explain the nuances of one of Spakenburg’s most traditional pieces of clothing to us: the kraplap. This signature shoulder cover has a stiff structure and usually adorned with beautiful floral patterns. She explained that the kraplap is always worn with a black skirt and shirt with checkered fabric sleeves attached with safety pins. An apron is also worn with the outfit, varied according to the day of the week; on work days, the apron is of checkered fabric, on Sundays only the top is of checkered fabric and starched, and the bottom is dark blue. And hair is always worn up in a bun underneath a starched lace cap. In periods of mourning, the kraplap would be a darker colored floral pattern.

While Spakenburg is one of the only towns where women still wear traditional Dutch dress in their daily lives, the prevalence of the clothing is decreasing and some worry that soon the dress will be confined to history books. To remember our time in Spakenburg and support the efforts of the local community to preserve their traditions, we bought some traditional kraplap fabrics in the gift shop with hopes to use it for a future project.