What is at the core of your collection?
One of the assignments was to start a diary of our summer holiday while looking at a contemporary artist. I went to Los Angeles that summer, where I saw the work of artist Richard Artschwager in the Hammer Museum. I was so impressed by his pieces that my collection seemed to gravitate instantly towards it. The plastic yellow bristles that collected to form his exclamation point, stood out to me in bright yellow; aiding my discovery of his talent immensely and leading to my first silhouette. The big yellow coat was made as I developed my own technique of using similar plastics in clothes, applying the same materials as he used in his artwork. I named my collection Exclamation point!, after the work that first struck me; it was where my whole project began.
Your silhouettes seem to be in opposition with the surface decoration and fabrics used. Do you favour contradictions when designing?
I love contradictions, that’s why this artist worked so well for me: he also had a predilection for contradictions using fine materials in combination with the ‘’ugly”. For example: the bristle hairs he and I chose are normally used for cleaning brushes. I liked the idea of working with beautiful silks, leather and wool crepe in combination and in contradiction with the hard, cheap plastic bristle hair.
“My tutors had a certain vision of how things should look and how they liked it to be done, yet I always refused to homogenise my creations to their vision when I was pushed to adapt my designs to this set style.”
Did you feel pressure to change your style according to the “blueprint” that aligned with the reputation of your university?
The funny thing is that in my opinion I completely don’t match the “blueprint”. If you look at the style of my designs, and the school’s image, I’m quite the opposite, which always made it a big “struggle” to defend my ideas and aesthetics in class discussions. I learned so much from this because it made me protective of my work. My tutors had a certain vision of how things should look and how they liked it to be done, yet I always refused to homogenise my creations to their vision when I was pushed to adapt my designs to this set style. I never want to be forced into something that’s not me.
It makes me proud to think that I stand behind my work, some of my fellow students had tried to fit into the aesthetics of the academy and I noticed they weren’t completely satisfied with their realisations. It must have been the worst feeling ever; especially if you’re going to look for jobs or internships, presenting yourself and your work is integral to self promotion. It must be a reflection of your personality.
What do you want your clothes add to the life of the wearer?
I would love for the people who buy my clothes to wear them immediately. You know that feeling of not being able to wait to show off this new garment… It’s important for a brand to create such a desire so that someone will want to put in a similar degree of effort – like saving up – to obtain a piece that makes him or her feel special when wearing it. A good brand can make people feel beautiful, sexy and strong.
Name a designer you love to loathe?
I’m not sure about loathing, but it’s nice to see how J.W. Anderson is progressing; he’s a real rising star. Young, extremely talented, fresh.
How do you unblock the flow of creativity?
Like other designers I have good days and bad days. On a bad design day when nothing works it can definitely become very frustrating. But the good thing about being a student is that we have so many other assignments going on. I have been able to build upon my senses, testing what works and what doesn’t. If I come to a stand still, I can always switch to something else, like making illustrations, realising patterns, garments and prototypes.
“Presenting yourself and your work is integral to self promotion. It must be a reflection of your personality.
What would you do if you simply ran out of ideas?
Personally, it always takes some time to start up a new collection and somehow this pre-creation period can also be a bit scary. That’s why it’s really important to take a complete break after finishing a collection. It doesn’t have to be a long one but just enough to relax, to take the focus away and to recharge myself in order to make me longing for the next collection. Once I start creating and realising my next collection there’s nothing else I can think about until it’s completed; it haunts me everywhere, day and night!
I suppose if I completely ran out of ideas one day, I would change my routine, get out of my usual environment and start to travel. Being in a strange country is a rich source for great ideas.
“This period of pre-creation can be a bit scary… it’s really important to recharge myself.”
What’s the strangest place you have ever borrowed ideas from?
Weirdly enough, my dreams give me incredible inspiration. It’s strange and fascinating that I can sometimes imagine a complete look or set the tone for a new collection subconsciously. On the other hand, a lot of ideas that pop up in my dreams, cannot be remembered when I wake up!
Where do you go to drink in innovation?
It’s a pity because Antwerp lacks the kinds of places I prefer to spend some free time in, places that reflect a certain atmosphere. My favourite spot there is ‘Roji’, they serve fantastic cocktails in a lounge interior. The log burning fire place creates a cushion of cosiness in the authentic medieval basement. Bars in London are easier to appreciate because of their relaxing atmospheres…
If you could make a cocktail from inspirational imagery, what would your ideal muse be like?
“I would love to establish a legacy that could continue when I’m gone, or no longer active as a designer.”
If you could create an everlasting image of yourself, what form would it take?
I would love to develop a brand or even a group like LVMH… one day. That would be a dream come true! To create a platform for jobs and creativity. I would love to establish a legacy that could continue when I’m gone, or no longer active as a designer. The same way Chanel lives on without its founder.
Interview by Eleanor Kirby