Hundreds of people dressed in traditional costumes in a unique group photo

Silver Staphorster headpieces sparkle in the sunlight, and a Zeeland lady’s wide lace collides with her neighbor’s rabbit-fur hat. “The last picture, I promise!” yells photographer Jimmy Nelson of The Cherry Picker. It is lucky on this day when the rain and sun alternate at a fast and unpredictable pace: just before the photo is taken, the sun rises. Curious passers-by should take a step back, and take another: this photo should only show the traditional costume.

Nelson gives directions.© Photo ANP / Ramon van Flamen

Coaches from Markin

A group of girls in Marker costumes walk the Museum Square, chased by cameras and cell phones. Larisa Biribum, 20, has worn the dress four times in recent years, she says, because of the photos in the book. “I especially love that my grandmother can get dressed again, she is enjoying this,” she says, as she follows her friends to the center of the circle.

They came with twelve coaches from all over the country, from Zeeland to Friesland. This group photo of 600 people in traditional attire is the culmination of Nelson’s recent project, famous for its indigenous portraits. When Nelson could not travel during the Corona period, he decided to tour the Netherlands, the country in which he had lived for more than thirty years. It resulted in Between the Sea and the Sky, a heavy book containing hundreds of photos of people dressed in local costumes.

Also read: Our Interview with Photographer Jimmy Nelson

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The Museum Square is full.© Photo ANP / Ramon van Flamen

“This is a Hindeloopen, I think,” Corey van Amsterdam (79) tells Helga Spits (71), just like her in a Zanes costume. Refer to another participant. Many participants in the Nelson project know each other through performances and folklore days. Van Amsterdam and Spits belong to De Zaanse Kaper, the fashion group in the Zaan region. At the beginning of August, the group was still in a traditional fashion show in Katwick, and next week it will be at the Elderly Society in Wormer.


All clothes are handcrafted, and some pieces still come from ancestral heritage. “We go to galleries to find original fabrics,” says Van Amsterdam. Spitting lifts her skirt to reveal the three layers underneath, including the “disak,” an early ancestor of the undergarment money belt. “Every skirt has a slit, so you can reach for it.” And what about those lingerie that, according to legend, ladies would not have worn under their skirts in days gone by? “We don’t know, we’re wearing it anyway,” Helga says. “I think the underwear didn’t end up on the estate because it was dirty and yellow after so many years.”

The photographer is among his “subjects”.© Photo ANP / Ramon van Flamen

Spits and Van Amsterdam have experience with presentations, but this is also a special event for them. “This has never been shown before, and it will never be shown again,” Spetses said. Several participants said, “This is disappearing.” “When we got married, we were the only couple where both the mother and mother-in-law were still pregnant,” says Willem van der Harst, 67, of Scheveningen. That was 44 years ago. Together with folklore groups they try to preserve traditions. “But my wife only wears jeans on weekdays.”

fishing days

Older ladies from Spakenburg and Staphorst are among the few who still take to the streets every day in traditional skirts and hats, although some have replaced their everyday hats with a Sunday hat for the occasion. “My grandmothers still wear them,” says fourteen-year-old Stevie de Young of Spakenburg. Her mother – who is dressed in modern clothes – and her grandmother – in traditional dress – is with us.

Steffi and her peers wear white hats with colorful flowers only on special occasions, such as hunting days. “In the last days of hunting, it was noticeable that there were many young men in traditional costumes,” she says. “Also in modern Spakenburg clothing, with a blouse instead of this piece in the front.” Because traditional clothes also seem to be subject to fashion; In the past, for example, skirt pleats were wider and the neck closed higher, says Mrs. Staphorster.

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Is this the Netherlands?

Then, the Marker Orchestra plays a cheerful tune and the bolognese starts automatically with bright colors. When the first gaps in the crowd appear, one tourist after another taps a lady in a long skirt or a gentleman in a 19th century costume on the shoulder. “Excuse me, can I take a picture with you?” A woman in a white cap and black embroidered skirt lights a cigarette, while two teenagers in traditional Orc costumes get some chips. “Is this Dutch clothes too?” A gray bystander in an umbrella and sports jacket asks two girls in red sleeves, blue aprons, and white hats. “Yes, that’s Markin,” one of them laughs. “It really is an all-Dutch costume.”

Moments later it started raining again, but then the skirts and hats were already high and dry in the back bus, or at the latte macchiato at the nearest coffee shop.

Read also: Photographer Jamie Nelson hails ‘Adoption Country’. “It’s an obsession for me to see how close I can get.”

© Photo ANP / Ramon van Flamen

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