Whimsical winter wonderlands
Rabbits, mushrooms, trees, our evocative Village architecture and, of course, a starry night sky to reflect the open-air setting: these are just some of the magical details you’ll find popping up in the boutique windows this season. While woodland scenes aren’t what you’d usually expect to see sitting alongside luxury fashion, they’re typical of Adrian & Gidi, the creative duo behind the playful paper designs.
We both love escaping into nature – I think that comes through in the installations we do with the forest elements.
After meeting at Amsterdam’s Royal Academy of Art as students in 2007, Adrian Woods and Gidi van Maarseveen became a couple (they’re now married with children) and launched their eponymous, multi-disciplinary creative agency soon after.
Having started in fashion photography, the pair experimented with different mediums, including Gidi’s favourite, a fashion shoot for Vogue Italia featuring miniature fashion modelled on Barbie dolls. And the weirdest? “Turning lingerie into flowers or clothes into animals. Fun, but a little unusual,” laughs Gidi from their Amsterdam studio as we chat over Zoom.
Today, they’re called upon for the craft-inspired illustration and animation you’ll have seen in advertising for the likes of Elie Saab, L’Occitane and Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty. This signature creative style – think animated paper cut-outs – was first inspired by a six-page ELLE magazine shoot they did in 2010. From there, the trend for paper gained in popularity and it soon became their calling card. “It evolved into a reoccurring job, so each month we had to create these new miniature worlds. We used whatever we could get our hands on: clay, Styrofoam and, of course, paper,” explains Adrian. “But paper worked best because it’s so versatile, so colourful and more sustainable.”
“I did fashion photography in those days, but I was keen to tell a story – not just with the model, but by adding props and exciting extras. That’s how the crafts elements evolved, as part of the set,” adds Gidi.
And while the delicate designs lend themselves perfectly to fashion accessories and cosmetics especially, these paper worlds offer endless possibilities to add interest, character and atmosphere to any setting.
What sets Adrian & Gidi apart is its incredible attention to detail, carefully managed with a small team of core creatives. Designs are sketched out first before being recreated digitally. From there, the couple are joined by an illustrator, animator and a handful of paper craftsmen, who bring their designs to life in fully recycled paper.
Paper works best because it’s so versatile, so colourful and more sustainable.
Despite being favourites among luxury fashion houses, Gidi acknowledges that seasonal trends only go so far in inspiring their creative process. “Our work is influenced by [it], to a point,” says Gidi. “Our sets need to complement the product placed within – so, for example, we’ve used softer, winter shades for this project for The Bicester Village Shopping Collection. We’ve given it a little more magic to tie in with the Christmas atmosphere in the Villages.
“But it’s not just fashion – we’re inspired by interior design and architecture too. As with any art, your surroundings trickle down into your creative.”
“We’re city kids at heart,” says Adrian. “We’d love to pop over to London or Barcelona for the architecture and their art scenes. For us, that’s better than going to a museum.
“And we both love escaping into nature – I think that comes through in the installations we do, the forest elements. When we travel, we try to visit nature reserves. It’s a chance to clear the head – that’s very inspiring.”
Find your own inspiration in their beautiful boutique displays when you visit the Village this winter.