Wild young fabulous life in super retro style, Antwerp, Belgium city of the antique and the architectural permanence; by the 80s six designers -plus le seventh – took over the city’s old-fellow trademark and turn it into the piece of couture heaven it’s nowadays.
Graduated between 1980 and 1981, Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Van Saene, Walt Van Beirendonck, Dirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee where studding fabric’s magic at the right place in perfect time. Despite actual history, it was in the 60s when the rigorous fashion department of The Royal Academy of Fine Arts was (re) born. Linda Loppa, talented fashion designer showed multitasking while directing, inspiring and becoming the head behind the storm created by the barricades her six poster students set in the streets in 1986’s London Fashion Week.
Go with your five bf4e and hire an enormous truck and stay on camp site while London celebrates the best part of weather change; spent all your money, as little and insignificant it might seem, in publicity; and welcome to success and to getting tagged by international press.
The phenomenon was unique, as a whole country could finally find itself in fashion’s geographies; a Belgian identity in fashion and the Antwerp Six’s first international glance. Their style wasn’t one, but several lines of creation and inventive brought together by a place which’s style grew with and because of them. There were lots of delicious differences between the seven designers – Martin Margiela can be considered part of the crew, not joining them in their adventures though- but they converge in a conceptual type of fashion emerging from strong identity and tradition, the mirror in which the system of fashion could see itself reflected. It was not only a matter of talent managing fabrics, but also the bending and stretching of reality; the clothes were not lost in abstraction or artistry, but were kept pending between realism and imagination; the place where appealing surrealism lives in.
Where is extreme beauty found? Saints by Rubens, the deepest Congo and perverse S&M clubbing; fashion was feeding it self and was doing it grandly. Why not worldwide? Why hasn’t any of the original six built a global brand to compete in the conspicuous consumption of our time? Because none of them have wanted to. Small, purposeful business, very limited distribution and fewer licensing deals; high quality privately owned niche fashion; vision, creativity and humanity above the too loud economical sound of some big over rated brands. Is unique just it?
Dries Van Noten
American Vogue found many years ago the accurate amount of words to describe Van Noten’s style: “poetic, ethnic-eclectic aesthetic” Intricate embroidery, dynamic prints, the use of the so called “exotic fabrics”, beaded saris and dyed skirt that are the result of the transformation of the traditional practices followed in the most colourful cultures in the world.
Introvert clothes and narrative silhouette, clothes are for Ann to frame the history of the person wearing them. “I want to meet the woman, not the fashion designer who dresses her. I think is better for women to be free in that sense. I hate when everyone looks the same”
Dirk Van Saene
Opened his boutique “Beauties and Heroes” he decided to only sell his awarded winning designs, which was not hard to do as he won almost every possible Gouden Spoel. His collections, inspiration and show schedules are always changing, leaving fans and fashionistas only to wonder. He’s into pottery now.
Walt Van Beirendonck
Playful and sometimes daring lets mix it all designer. Old graphics and disconcerting designs originated in a sci/fi futuristic concept of fashion. Theatrical and challenging are both adequate expressions for his view.
Distinctive personality that mixes glamour and strength. He has been presenting in Milan’s fashion week since 1998, though when the line is not up in a FW is not rare to spot his creation in football stadiums. The one and only capable of confronting fashion and football (referring to the sport you actually play with your feet), as he considered both of been for excellence universal languages.
She pays attention to details, combining delicately rough and fine materials. The cloth for Marina Yee more than an accessory is a possibility of transgression and change, she wants her silhouettes looking taller or smaller, but always building the images of strong women. She has been in and out fashion through the years.