Directed by Bo Van Scheyan/ Reviewed by Prarthana Mitra
This documentary takes us through the life and works of renowned Dutch jewellery designer Ineke Otte, laying out the various facets of her life that have led her to worldwide fame and the status of a lasting style icon. In the film aptly titled Ladybug, Bo van Scheyen, a documentary filmmaker from Vlissingen (NL), attempts to highlight how Otte navigated the fashion and accessories industry as a woman, at a time it was incredibly hard to make it as an outlier, a lone
wolf. Making bold statement pieces that stand out and stand the test of time, Otte continues to surprise her fans and critics all over the world. Pairing historical heritage of Amsterdam with concepts of high-fashion, Otte has carved a niche space for herself and this film is an exploration into how she’s managed to do just that.
With the help of testimonies of friends and colleagues, montages from her life, and interviews with the subject herself, Scheyen manages to capture the avant garde craftswoman in her natural habitat and all that influences her. For example, the first part of the documentary takes us on a tour around her home and studio. The space she inhabits and works out of reveals her inner aesthetic, clearly manifested in her clothing, interior decor, and sculpture as well. Otte,
who dresses as colourfully as her designs, shows the crew around – talking about her art installations, her creative process and how nature has always been her greatest inspiration. Her iconic fruit necklaces, grass bracelets, bunny rings, and flower ornaments all grace Scheyen’s frames from time to time, with the stories behind their inception.
In another section, she takes the audience through a particular collection inspired solely by microorganisms, revealing her idiosyncratic curiosities that eventually translate into award- winning jewellery collections and sculptures that adorn prestigious galleries. Otte, who is forever youthful and experimental, never shies from using tech and is acutely aware of fashion’s need to adapt to sustainable eco-friendly standards as well. Recently, she released a line of 3-D
printed jewellery made of recycled nylon, drawing much praise and acclaim.
We also learn in the course of the documentary that Otte’s contemporary jewellery collections have gone on to win her several coveted awards in the field. Otte also relates to the camera how American style icon Iris Apfel, now in her nineties, came across her work in a fair in New York City a long time ago, and has since been a devoted fan of her jewellery. Ineke’s art has also found place as props in Hollywood films like Alice in Wonderland; she shows Scheyen the tea-party set she’d designed for a seminal scene in the movie.
Some critics hail her for playing with culture in her clever reworkings of ancient Dutch symbols, while others admire her grit and determination coupled with her free-spirited sensibilities that shape her artistry.
In an interview about the film’s success, Scheyen discloses, "What we want to say in particular with the film is that every woman must be given opportunities and opportunities to develop her talents." Speaking to eminent personalities from her home-state in Zeeland, from politicians to
peers (and even her daughter), Scheyen’s film deftly portrays how Otte represents her people and their cultures abroad, acting as an ambassador for their nation. There is a segment dedicated to Ineke’s impressive work ethic, which leads her to travel all over the world with a suitcase in tow, to find a suitable place to exhibit her work. The vibrancy and scope of an artist’s
life that Ladybug captures through stimulating conversation and space make it a complete biography of the titular woman.
Manoeuvring to and from fourth-wall breaking speeches with Otte and her conversations with industry acquaintances, Scheyen allows us to come a little bit closer in deconstructing Ineke’s beautiful mind and debunking the enigma behind her curious statement pieces. Overall, this is a delightfully informative film that takes Otte’s persona from the runway and gallery to screen – sharing her inspiring journey with the international audience while at it.