Danielle van Lunteren

Danielle van Lunteren's "Infected" bags spread pestilence into the ultra-clean cities of the Netherlands.

Raging infection and pestilence, parasites and raw sewage: These are not things that typically inspire the makers of haute couture. But to someone who's never experienced them before, they can be fascinating enough to underpin an accessories line that would make an epidemiologist throw petri dishes in the air with joy.

At least that was the case with designer Danielle van Lunteren, a graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven who recently took an eight-month backpacking trip through Latin America. Being from the ultra-clean Netherlands, van Lunteren was captivated by the cauldron of pathologies boiling around her: The American tropical zone, after all, is home to malaria, dengue fever, insidious intestinal parasites, yellow fever, cholera, typhoid, schistosomiasis, various skin-infesting fungi, Chagas disease, and that horrible bot fly that implants squirming larva into living animals (including, ugh, humans). It was quite a change from her European enclave, she writes, where "it seems as if we are afraid of filth."

When van Lunteren got back to her work table, she set about creating a series of chichi handbags that played with the idea of "infected." She started with sheets of beautiful leather, which she subjected to blasts of acid, extreme heat and slashes with sharp tools that ripped and punctured the material. By the end of the stylistic torture, the leather appeared to have fallen off one of the Horses of the Apocalypse. Then, in a squirm-inducing touch, she put the handles inside the bags, so that it looks like people are walking around with bloated, diseased ticks eating their arms.

Because these bags really benefit from a close look, you can find blow-up photos on van Lunteren's website. Why isn't this woman designing on Project Runway already? Or at least working for the CDCP?

Photo from the 2012 Graduation Show at the Design Academy Eindhoven.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    The Last Daycares Standing

    In places where most child cares and schools have closed, in-home family daycares that remain open aren’t seeing the demand  — or the support — they expected.

  2. Equity

    We'll Need To Reopen Our Cities. But Not Without Making Changes First.

    We must prepare for a protracted battle with coronavirus. But there are changes we can make now to prepare locked-down cities for what’s next.

  3. An African healthcare worker takes her time washing her hands due to a virus outbreak/.
    Coronavirus

    Why You Should Stop Joking That Black People Are Immune to Coronavirus

    There’s a fatal history behind the claim that African Americans are more resistant to diseases like Covid-19 or yellow fever.

  4. photo: a For Rent sign in a window in San Francisco.
    Coronavirus

    Do Landlords Deserve a Coronavirus Bailout, Too?

    Some renters and homeowners are getting financial assistance during the economic disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. What about landlords?

  5. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

×