joost van bellen
an internationally acclaimed dj and nightlife entrepreneur, not many people know that joost van bellen’s other big love has always been fashion. in fact, he can practically claim couture as his birthright. the son of a hair stylist (father) and a beautician (mother), his family has been in the looks-trade for generations. “i grew up between designer dresses, makeup and models, and was wearing high fashion even before i could walk,” he recalls. “of course my parents expected me to take over the family business, but I chose music instead.”
not surprisingly, the music that appealed to young joost was still heavily look-based. “it started with glam rock: david bowie, the new york dolls, t. rex and roxy music. from there i progressed to punk rock, and when they threatened to kick me out of school for wearing safety pins and makeup, i quickly switched to disco. for some reason hot pink and gold lamé seemed more acceptable…”
in 1980 van bellen moved to amsterdam, where he immersed himself in the capital’s nightlife. his work as resident dj (and later artistic director) of the legendary club roxy brought him back full-circle to his fashion roots, when he was asked to dj at various fashion shows, including marlies dekkers’ debut and the smirnoff fashion awards. roxy was also home to an annual hiv/aids fundraiser called love ball, which featured contributions by vivienne westwood, jean paul gaultier, paco rabanne, frans molenaar, rifat ozbek, walter van beirendonck and bodymap, and shows by fashion icon leigh bowery, who became a personal friend.
throughout the nineties, van bellen firmly established himself as a dj in the european fashion industry, producing soundtracks for shows by turnover, scapa of scotland and le cri néerlandais, which included viktor & rolf. in 2003 he was invited to spin live at the 25th anniversary catwalk show of diesel in italy. this led to a fruitful collaboration with wilbert das, former creative director and head of design at diesel, which later saw van bellen and his partner sander stenger producing the music for the label’s twice yearly shows at new york fashion week. ultimately, this is what formed the inspiration for star studded studios.
“nowadays, djs are practically rock stars,” says van bellen. “but at a fashion show, i like to be completely unobtrusive. who cares who the dj is? the collection is the star. and i’ll do whatever it takes to let it shine as brightly as possible. it’s a job that involves using every imaginable genre of music, and working together with designers, directors, stylists, hair and makeup artists, audio, video and light engineers, live musicians, models… it’s a huge challenge. everyone works incredibly hard to create something that lasts only ten or twelve minutes… but it has to be twelve minutes of perfection. i get a tremendous kick out of it. for me, it doesn’t get any better than this.”
star studded studios’ technical maven is sander stenger. a 20-year veteran of the music industry, he has made a name for himself as a dj and producer (dj sanyi, one half of the disctwins), as well as a successful web developer (firma netjes is his own company). working side by side with partner joost van bellen awakened his interest in fashion, and after collaborating on several projects for clients in the fashion world, star studded studios was born.
“i felt joost was full of wonderful ideas, but on a technical level, I saw room for improvement,” he explains. “of course our music selection is a joint effort, we build a track together. with our combined knowledge of music we definitely complement each other. but i was eager to bring in my technological expertise as well. it’s really one of my strengths, and my goal is to make things run as smoothly as possible. at star studded studios we’re known for great client communication and our seamless integration of music, video and lights. our use of innovative technology offers incredible flexibility and makes everything much more user-friendly for the client.”
working with the very latest music production software allows stenger to not only produce and edit the soundtrack to perfection, but also tweak things on the fly, up to the very last minute – even during a live show. “we prefer to be present in person at each show. because there are two of us, we can be at two different locations at once. and if necessary, we can adjust the soundtrack on the spot.”
stenger also looks after the required technical facilities on location, making sure the right equipment is in place and seeing to any other needs. “i pay great attention to detail, coordinating with the choreographer or director during rehearsals, to get the timing exactly right. it’s one of my fortes.”
besides our international clients, star studded studios has close ties to the dutch fashion world, working with established brands, as well as backing new talent. “it’s always exciting working with young designers,” says joost van bellen. “of course it’s an investment, so we carefully select those upcoming designers we feel have potential to grow and become a success. By getting involved at such an early stage in their careers, we’re able to play an active part in the designers’ progress and develop a real understanding of what works for them.”
some young designers star studded studios has supported in the past include bas kosters, end by eva and delia, and mada van gaans.
star studded studios collaborates with htnk fashion recruitment & consultancy on projects like the annual lichting shows where the best students of fashion academies battle for the g-star raw talent award. htnk also organizes dutch fashion here & now; a catwalk & showroom program showcasing the best of dutch fashion -from education to industry- in emerging designer label markets like china (from 2010) and india (launch in 2011), for which star studded studios provides all the music.
recently, we began working with mattijs van bergen and spijkers & spijkers, who are showing at london fashion week, and their new label sis by spijkers & spijkers, showing at amsterdam international fashion week. we continue to work with major dutch denim brand g-star during their shows at berlin’s bread & butter and new york fashion week, and with jan taminiau, who is currently designing for princess máxima of the netherlands and showing his haute couture in paris. our latest collaboration is with sjaak hullekes, winner of the dutch fashion awards 2009, whose menswear collection is showing at paris fashion week men. star studded studios is joost van bellen and sander stenger. they work with a team of musicians, producers, international djs, and other people from the music industry.