Royal Academy Antwerp

Royal Academy Antwerp

Antwerp Fashion Department graduate Sofie Gaudaen finds adornment in the functional

The final collection of Royal Academy of Arts Fashion department graduate Sofie Gaudaen - "Ainu Stroke", intended for empowering its wearer - is a...

Peter Schamaun: Rethinking fashion education expectations

Directors of leading MA Fashion Design courses keep stressing: know who your customer is, and urge students to create elaborately researched mood boards that...

Putting Together the Antwerp Six: Geert Bruloot

Geert Bruloot does not sit calmly when he speaks. His hands make great gestures when he talks about the Belgian economy, slavery, or the essence of having a philosophy when deciding to make a career out of fashion design. He switches off his phone when it rings with the same enthusiastic energy as with which he chats. It’s present even when he, every once in a while, pours himself a glass of water, sitting in the top-floor offices of the ModeMuseum in Antwerp, which also houses the Flanders Fashion Institute and the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Art. Bruloot, who founded the Antwerp-based shoe store Coccodrillo in 1984, has curated the upcoming shoe exhibition Foot Print, The Tracks of Shoes in Fashion which will open at the MoMu on Thursday 3rd of September. Many real-life Pinterest mood boards with printed images attached to each category stand just outside of the room where our conversation takes place. Asked about which categories dominate the exhibition, Geert explains: “As seven months is really a very short for preparing this kind of exhibition, we’ve tried to work with what we could get a hold of. Technically we needed a longer period for chasing loans from the big museums, and conceptually we had to work hard to convince the fashion houses that their past is equally important as the commercial values they are aiming for today. With more time for profound research, we would have gone through the great historical collections of the world, and would have been able to select older historical and indegenousfootwear that has inspired contemporary shoe design.” With impossible-to-walk-on heels scattered throughout, his moodboards don’t necessarily limit themselves to ‘wearability’. Not that that was the focus, anyhow. “Wearability has never been our first reference. From when we started our shoe store 32 years ago, creativity has always been our goal. When emotion, invention, creation, craft and fantasy can go together with technical development, construction and anatomical research, great fashion creations are born! Shoes can have many connotations: religion, fetish, war, survival, seduction, gender, status, dance, rebellion…”

Ronald Stoops: documenting Antwerp’s greatest

Ronald Stoops sits in the sunny backyard of his Antwerp house, talking in short, to-the-point phrases about his long career in photography, in which he has shot the work of all Antwerp Six designers, except Ann Demeulemeester. In tune with the sound of our conversation is a stream of water and fishes swimming in a pond next to us. Every once in a while, one of Ronald’s many cats appears, like a shadow on the plastic roof above us, and Inge Grognard — his partner in both work and life — pops in every once in a while, tending the garden or answering emails indoors. A bottle of sparkling water stands between us and is left empty after one-and-a-half hour of conversation, which is much needed due to its quick-fire nature. It’s not necessarily an intentionally chosen mode of interviewing, but Ronald doesn’t seem particularly keen on exhaustively dwelling on fashion or photography-related topics. So, when mentioning the brevity of his answers and asking if there are other topics that he prefers talking about, he mentions that he is much more interested in talking about ‘real feelings’: how you feel, what you feel, how you walk in the street, what your hopes are, what you want to do in life — and a cheeky one: do you have a lover, somebody who you love?

MASTERMINDING MoMu: Director, Kaat Debo on Dries, digital, and how museums...

Kaat Debo is the head of MoMu, that being the deceptively simple shorthand for the Mode Museum in Antwerp. But there's nothing simple about...

Stephan Schneider: stop showing, start selling

Stephan Schneider is not your ordinary ‘Belgian’ designer. As one of the first foreign generations to graduate from the Antwerp Fashion Department in the 90s, the German-born designer is “for sure not Boheme, radical, dark or gothic,” he says as he compares himself with the Antwerp Six, and past graduates from the institution that have established a distinct ‘made in Belgium’ signature. His clothes, in contrast, are very ‘wearable’: something that may be considered very mature or even ‘commercial’ compared to the extravagancy seen at the students’ final year show of the Academy, where he acted as a jury member this year. In a much accelerated industry, Stephan keeps his head cool and doesn’t go through as much change as perhaps other brands would. In fact, the leopard print carpet in his shop is exactly the same as it was when he first opened it 20 years ago. The age doesn’t show in the interior, and neither does it show in Stephan’s energy when he talks about his steady career. “I enjoy this old dusty house,” he says. “I wanted to make fashion that was solid and that I could live from.”

Jan-Jan van Essche: the fashion designer embracing slowness

Talking with Jan-Jan van Essche in a tiny courtyard at the back of his Solar Shop in Antwerp — in which one can buy collected objects of desire as well as his clothing — is like being pushed into a meditative state. On day two of a trip to the Belgian city, I meet the fashion designer who takes a very craft-based and non-seasonal approach to creating garments with soul and longevity, and it takes a mental effort to adapt to his stillness when living and working in a city as fast-paced as London. His long dreadlocks are draped on the table between us, on which a glass of water stands, and a phone. Halfway through the conversation, his friend Charlotte Koopman — a chef who creates food in Het Bos that tastes as soulful as Jan-Jan’s clothes (a testimony: we ate it) — pops in and out of a kitchen at the very back of the shop. The conversation we had on one of the hottest days of the year, while both wearing black, follows below.

Wrap her in upholstery: Jack Davey’s Featuring Daphne

Jack Davey made one of the most memorable collections of the Royal Academy of Art Antwerp’s graduate shows in the past few years. But...

Antwerp Fashion Department: SHOW 2015

Compared to stressed-out cities like London and New York, Antwerp is on a whole different level. When travelling there, one can breathe without feeling...

Eran Shanny is Wild at Heart

Royal Academy of Art Antwerp MA Fashion graduate Eran Shanny wasn't exactly planning to study design. It just sort of happened on a whim....

Joeri van Campenhout’s Mme Bricolage

At the moment, Joeri van Campenhout is finishing his MA Fashion degree at the Royal Academy of Art Antwerp under the tutelage of Walter...

Influential Fashion Educators: Linda Loppa

"I am a builder of bridges.” In one of the previous interviews in this series, 1 Granary spoke with Westminster’s fashion course director, Andrew Groves,...