Saturday, February 28, 2009

Belgian Invasion- A Little History Lesson

One may or may not be surprised at the amount of influential Belgian fashion designers. Some of the most famous being known as the Antwerp Six, a group of influential avantgarde fashion designers graduating from Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts between 1980-1981. The Antwerp Six are:

-Walter Van Beirendonck
-Ann Demeulemeester
-Dries Van Noten
-Dirk Van Saene
-Dirk Bikkembergs
-Marina Yee

Walter Van Beirendonck:
A menswear designer, Van Beirendonck graduated in 1980 and is known for his bold taste. He mixes bright colors with graphic designs and a humorous spin.

Dirk Van Saene:
In March 1990 Dirk Van Saene organized his first show in Paris with his own collection. If imagery is used in his collections it is ironic. At his first Winter 1990-1991 show in Paris, his staff wore T-shirts bearing his name, misspelt in different ways. Picture After some quiet years he made a remarkable comeback with his collection “Black Sissi”. Picture People looking for some fixed, logical development in his collections will not find it. Dirk Van Saene is a man capable of change. Over the years he has also drawn inspiration from the fine arts, citing the work of Louise Bourgeois, Ellsworth Kelly and Diane Arbus as starting points for various collections. source source

Dirk Bikkembergs:
Dirk Bikkembergs has developed an energetic distinct style . His designs differ from all other fashion creators. In particular, his men's designs have an uncomplicated self-confidence.
The colours that Dirk Bikkembergs use are simple and strong: black, white and classic tones such as khaki, midnight blue and grey illuminated by bright, even fluorescent colours. Rough materials predominate and solid shapes are built up in leather, felt and thick, almost architectural, knitwear.
Many details in his collections suggest “heavy-duty” functionality. This impression is created by little details. For example, in the 1997-98 Winter collection a classically tailored suit, with an extreme sharp, modern cut, was worn with a tie knot which was replaced by a similarly shaped metal ring. source

Marina Yee:

Marina Yee pays a lot of attention to details, using rough materials combined with fine materials such as bright coloured satins. She wants her silhouettes to seem taller and smaller. The life of Nomads is an important source of inspiration for her work. In her own way Marina Yee builds images of strong modern women. source

and of course

Ann Demeulemeester: describes her as :

Perfectly cut, monochromatic pieces with a blunt edginess and a punky femininity are Belgian designer Ann Demeulemeester's hallmarks. Women with a strong sense of personal style, who don't pay much heed to passing trends, have been coming back for years to her brand of slouchy, layered, menswear-inspired modernity: T-shirt dresses, asymmetric vests, and leather outerwear (not to mention those stompin' black leather boots). Still, Demeulemeester does appreciate the play of opposites, which accounts for a certain romance that flows through her collections, chains and all.

Looks from her Spring 09 collection:

Dries Van Noten: describes him as:

Van Noten continually balances it with what Vogue refers to as his "poetic, ethnic-eclectic" aesthetic. His loyal following remains so thanks to his artful and dynamic prints, intricate embroidery, and the wearable nature of his designs. His signature looks include the floral tent dress, the iris-print blouse, and a chunky sweater layered over pants or a skirt in contrasting patterns.

His Spring 09 collection recieved rave reviews and was one of the most well-recieved collections of the season. His geometric patterns and thought-provoking accessories combined for one of the most wearable collections as well. Van Noten (along with Demeulemeester) also creates a popular line of shoes.

Often considered the 7th member of the Antwerp Six, and replaced by Marina Yee, is Martin Margiela. Margiela graduated in 1980 before working under Jean Paul Gaultier. One of the most mysterious figures in fashion, Margiela lets his clothes speak for him and has never had his picture taken nor granted an interview. Like Rei Kawakubo of Comme Des Garcons, Margiela is not known for the wearability of his clothes or even "beautiful" clothing, but rather the cuts and shapes. It has been said that the cuts and shapes that Margiela uses will be toned down and made mainstream the next year. He has become one of the most influental designers of his day and famously labels his different lines 0-23.

his Spring 09 line:

looks from past collections: (my personal favorite collection is spring 07)

Other well-known Belgian designers:

Raf Simmons (for Jil Sander):

Olivier Theyskens (for Nina Ricci):

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