Fellow designer Mart Visser told national broadcaster NPO Radio 1 last Monday that Molenaar was a pioneer in the Dutch fashion world, known for his "architectural style" of clothes. The website NOS wrote that Molenaar began his carrier in 1967 and was unquestionably a pioneer. In that time he developed and deployed a new modernistic image – one that was almost architectural, as his creations focused on construction. After 98 shows his major innovations, such as those presented by him in the 1980s and 1990s, were more or less at an end. But he still had a signature and handwriting all of his own, in which one could recognize Molenaar’s style very well. Last summer, he presented another collection, entirely in black and white.
“That was Frans Molenaar writ large, as he was in his heyday. He taught me how the world of Dutch haute couture worked. How to put everything together. From the purchase of the materials to the manufacturing. The shows, the models, the craft industry and the techniques", Mart Visser said. Molenaar always said he could not live by couture alone. That is why he got involved with the fashion store C&A, for which he successfully designed more affordable suits. He also designed workmen’s outfits for the cleaning force of the city of The Hague, as well as uniforms for Albert Heijn and the army. In addition, he occasionally ventured outside the fashion world. He was involved in the creation of a special edition of the Ford Ka city car, and designed spectacle frames for Pearle. From 2004 he also designed glass art, which was regularly exhibited.
The NRC wrote that the fashion designer had learned the trade at the end of the 1950s (1955-1958) in Amsterdam. After his studies, he did an internship with Charles Montaigne in Paris and worked for – amongst others – the fashion houses Gérard Pipart and Nina Ricci. In 1967 Molenaar presented his feminine, minimalistic clothes for the first time. According to our fashion editor Milou van Rossum, Molenaar meant a lot to Dutch fashion: "He was the first to return from Paris not copying but having his own style. Very graphical, sleek, modern. It was fashion with a face all of its own." During that time, we – the students of the Design Academy Eindhoven – visited his atelier, where, friendly but totally concentrated, he advised us always to respect all aspects of a business, from graphic material to the image of the catwalk as total design.
His first encounter with glass was at the glass factory Royal Leerdam Crystal making ‘unica’, executed by the master-glassblower Ari van Loopik. Than, since 1997 onwards, he came into contact with the Glass Studio of Adriano Berengo, Murano (Venice), manufacturing works varied in Netherlands and Italy and since 1998 also in England at the master-glassblower Neil Wilkin. The elegant glass objects of Molenaar are based on the shape of the vase developing in the course of the time more exuberant and adopting clear features. Lexicon Modern Glass
Molenaar received the Max Heijmans-ring, a biennial award, for his oeuvre.
Angela van der Burght
Translation: James Benn
-Frans Molenaar design, Bussum 1997
-M. Mual, Frans Molenaar. Haute Verrerie, Maarssen 1998.
-Catalogue The Glass Age: MEESTERLIJK VORMGEGEVEN / MASTERLY DESIGNED 20 Years development Royal Leerdam Crystal: Work of the designers, architects and artists and Royal Leerdam Crystal, Gorgums Museum