Ronald van der Kemp kicked off Paris’ Fall 2017 couture week on Sunday morning with his exuberant runway debut. And while his joyful demi-couture has remained a clear season highlight, there’s something—or, rather, someone—else who made a brilliant impression. The designer’s outing featured runway stars like Anna Cleveland, who fluttered through the intimate space in a voluminous black ensemble, but it was Dutch model Jelle Haen who had everyone cheering. The male model-slash-singer, who made waves a few years ago when he walked Proenza Schouler’s Spring 2015 runway, made an appearance in van der Kemp’s show wearing painted white jeans, a voluminous peasant top, and sky-high neon platform heels. Marjan Jonkman, a friend of van der Kemp’s, wore a similar androgynous outfit by the designer while sitting front row.
“I met [Ronald] in Amsterdam,” said Haen on the sidewalk post-show, his eyelashes fluttering as he spoke. “He’s come to be a friend,” he continued of the designer, who also tapped the model for his Spring 2017 presentation last season.
“He’s a beautiful person. He belongs there,” offered van der kemp of his choice to cast Haen in the show. Sure, you don’t often see male models at the couture, but Haen was a perfect fit, personifying the collection’s upbeat, confident attitude. And honestly, given that so many ready-to-wear designers are exploring unisex clothes and casting both men and women in their shows, why should couture be any different?
“It was fabulous,” said Haen of walking for van der Kemp. “Backstage, all the girls were asking me, ‘Can you walk in high heels?’ And I was like, ‘Darling, I have much, much higher ones!’” he quipped with a smile. Indeed, judging by the way he worked that runway, he’s a pro.