Fashion is never as free and versatile as when created by design students for whom marketability can be one of the last concerns. This is most strongly felt at the graduation shows at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp where creativity has always been the king.
“Here students are pushed to discover their own identity”, has repeatedly stated designer Walter van Beirendonck, head of the Fashion Department. “When they graduate, they should have a voice. They should have a strong character and ambition if they are going to make it one way or another in fashion”.
The Academy students have never been afraid to comment on serious issues from consumerism through globalisation, to gender and while the works by the first-year students are primarily exercises in deconstruction, the third-years and the MA-graduates present fully fledged, well-researched and bold collections. These are the six young hopefuls from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts who will shape fashion’s future.
“I am very much interested in the power of fashion to convey a vision – giving insight into a constructed world, a dreamscape”, comments the 23-year old, Thailand-born designer on his fiery collection of frilled, fringed and ribboned pieces. Colourful and exquisitely embellished this is indeed a collection for–well, a wild bunch.
Emmanuel A. Ryngaert
Emmanuel Ryngaert, who studied furniture design before coming to fashion, presented a hyper-original collection inspired by modular furniture and Meccano toys. Emmanuel’s pieces equipped with perforations at the seams and connector elements were constructed without sewing and are kept together with industrial foam. The incongruous, outlandish pieces contrast nicely with the luxurious fabrics.
The German-born designer looks at the fashion’s beloved punk motives and rediscovers the classics. Zündorf’s pieces, beautifully torn and delightfully deconstructed evoke the works by Margiela, Simons and Westwood, though there’s something unmistakably contemporary and normcore in his Haute Punk looks.
Jennifer Dols reinterprets the traditional motive of “la belle et la bete”, portraying the beauty and the beast as contrasting parts of one’s personality. Her “she-monster” is, however, an extremely fashionable beast who dons faux fur, Margelian puffed jackets and Victorian blouses in an equally luscious way.
Charlotte de Geyter Pittoors
Charlotte de Geyter Pittoors’ poetic collection “How To Catch A Fish” explores happiness. Or rather, what can makes you happy in our fast-living, speed-driven world. The designer’s recipe is to slow down, look around and get closer to nature, while wearing exquisitely embellished shoes and light fabrics. Charlotte’s Ellsworth Kelly-inspired collection is probably the happiest and the brightest of all.
Puffed sleeves, broad shoulders, long hems and chains – Jannike Sommar looks into the matters of power, empowerment and powerlessness. In the collection inspired by the TV series “Orange is the new black” the designer reinterprets the codes of prison uniforms. Her “Miss” collection is a fascinating study on the construction of power relations within an enclosed marginal space. “Women in prison are deprived of their power”, explains the designer. “But by creating their own world, they are taking the power back.”