Meet Antwerp’s Fashion Hopefuls of 2017

Meet 5 MA graduates from Royal Academy of Fina Arts Antwerp who are making eye catching collections

“The largest class I’ve ever taught” – says Dirk Van Saene of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Art about his 2017 MA-graduate class. The 18 fashion MA graduates not only have eye catching designs but bring a creative approach to their collections.  With collections dedicated to identity issues, climate change and politics, this year’s graduates demonstrate not only strong technical skills but also active engagement with contemporary culture and society. Out of the 18 individual collections Sleek has chosen the five you should know about.

Woojic Jo

The Korea-born designer tries to imagine what a tailored suit would look like if it were designed by Mr. Bean. In a wonderfully ironic collection Jo gives Bean’s favourite staple- the perfectly tailored suit – a witty twist, highjacking the runway with a plethora of eccentric looks. Starting the collection with a tweed-covered turkey-shaped headgear, he goes on to show streamlined jackets with teddy bears sewn to them, mismatched shoes, multi-collar shirts and deconstructed garments. The highlight of this collection is an unfinished jacket with a hem unfolding into a long train of fabric. In “Bean’s Tailoring” the suits are quirky, impeccably cut and have a touch of masculinity.

Sanan Gasanov

Sanan Gasanov’s collection is dedicated to designer’s grandmother, tying elements to a Soviet households – the white lace and the colourful embroidery evoke tablecloths and table napkins, ubiquitous in Soviet homes.  The puffed capes resemble pillows that would be found in your grandmas house and that she would take pride in having.  The collection is anything but simple, reproducing the visual vocabulary of a typical Soviet home. The designer honours femininity, creativity and the female strength. The boots, worn as gloves and sleeves, refer to Gasanov’s grandmother’s drawings and symbolize that old Russian expression “working like a horse”.

Maximillian Welsch

“I tried to elevate the mundane” explains the German designer backstage before the show. There is a second row of buttons to a double-breasted jacket, mismatched pinstripes and gathered details to a pair of trousers. The intricate details are what make his minimalist designs its wearable charm.

Robbie van Mierlo

The 21-year old long-haired designer walked the runway alongside his models for the debut of his collection titled “The epos of the ego”. Van Mierlo, whose drawings have already been included in BOZAR’s “The Belgians: An Unexpected Fashion Story” two years ago, was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and the duality of his own self – hence the title. The designer’s ostentatiously androgynous garments feature armour-like jackets, voluminous coats and ruffled culottes symbolic to  the designer’s female and male counterparts, Jesus and Jeanne d’Arc.

Sofie Nieuwborg

Sofie Nieuwborg’s colllection is “both tough and fragile”.  The designer combines sturdy sportswear pieces with semi-sheer garments, designed from featherweight tulle fabric. The real flowers, sewn between layers of tulle, capture the idea of fleeting beauty, while the sportswear garments stand for the fast-changing trends of contemporary fashion. Add to that dreamy prints, drawn by the designer herself, and the iconic “fragile” print, evoking the early Margiela years – and you will have a collection of outstanding beauty.

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