After two years of digital show, the Fashion Department of Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts finally had its live graduation fashion show this year on June 3 and 4. BelgianFashion team was there to experience the big fashion party and check out new fashion designers in the making.
The audience of about 4000 people had gathered at the Waagnatie Expo and Events hall. The weather was fine and while waiting for the entry the spectators could admire the panorama of Antwerp against a pink-blue pre-sunset sky. Among them lots of sharply dressed people, original designs, and unexpected pieces. Before the show had even started you could forget yourself staring at an extravagant outfit.
The show started with historical costumes designed and sewn by second year bachelor students. You could see sophisticated handicraft and precision in details making the costumes really true to the era they originated from.
After the historical costumes, the first-year bachelor students were presenting the results of their annual work. They could let their imagination loose in the framework of three tasks: a skirt, titled “Shape it”, a dress titled “Skirt love“ and a jacket called „Print experiment“.
The skirt was supposed to be made of undyed simple cotton, so more attention was paid to the shape. The shapes varied from a relatively simple everyday skirt to completely unbelievable shapes. Simple cotton skirts were followed by dresses, as the title refers, a lot of attention was paid to the skirt part of the dress as well. Unlike skirts, the dresses were made of different fabrics and colours.
The third and last act of the freshmen was the print experience of a jacket. This act was as colourful as could be, jackets were puffy, several had fringes on the back. Lots of big collars and one shiny silvery jacket.
My absolute favourite was a bright yellow coat with a big collar and big yellow flowers attached to it by the stem. I do doubt, if I would have the courage to wear such an impressive piece of clothing on the street, but then again – this was not the kind of show to give you prêt a porter solutions.
Now, it was time for the second year to show their creation. The second year seems to be about history so we could see costumes and collections that were inspired by a historical person, an event, a painting. Some examples, Louise Marie d’Orleans, the first queen of Belgium in 1830 was very true-to-life; students had drawn inspiration from a French fisherman in a south’wester, les Sans-Culottes etc. At the same time the models were wearing super high bright coloured platform shoes and silvery shining alien dresses. What else was there on the catwalk?
Pink frilled blouse with red flared pants, showing a yellow triangle on the butt, face of the model hidden behind a net; lilac puffy hoody, which looked like a quilt. A costume consisting of a head scarf with blue polka dots, a short striped puffy jacket, and lilac skinny pants. As regards headwear the most remarkable were a silver helmet and a huge green hairy rectangle.
The first part of the show ended with third-year students, who already had the chance to present a whole collection. Seven different models and when the younger classes were on the stage all together, the third-year students had the catwalk exclusively for their collection. World costume was the main topic and they had drawn inspiration from all the corners of the world. From exotic places in Africa, South America or Greenland to our next-door neighbours like Germany, Italy and Croatia. En plus, China, Japan, Kazakhstan etc.
Sofia Hermenes Fernandes had called her airy and swinging and flying dresses, inspired by the city of Cáceres, founded by ancient romans in the Extremadura region of Spain “Painters of the Light”. Laura Meier Hagested’s collection of pink and white dreamy fairylike dresses, called “Lost space/imaginary ballet” was inspired by Greenlandic language, called Kalaalisuut. No wonder the collection was so pastel, airy and fairylike, this island in the middle of the raving seas has been the home of elves, fairies and other mythical creatures from the times immemorial. These were just two examples, but all the collections were sophisticated, imaginative and had skilfully drawn inspiration from costumes from everywhere around the world.
After the break of marvelling at the sunset, having a refreshing drink and admiring sharply and fancifully dressed people among the spectators, it was time to see the stars of the show. The fourth year, masters presenting their final collections of nine models.
Before they started, a giant animal with impressive horns, scarily rattling his teeth, conquered the catwalk. He was accompanied by models wearing costumes of various ingenious people. These were colourful and looked extremely labour-intensive. After the unknown giant had disappeared, taking the ingenious people along, the 12 masters started presenting their collections. They seemed to have been completely free in their choice and the collections were diverse, all complete and perfect in their own way. Colourful flying dresses were followed by darkwide clothes, sometimes the models were walking under a dark starry sky, accompanied by gloomy music to signal the approaching permanent error. A collection, featuring a skeleton pattern in each of the pieces was warning against the probable extinction waiting ahead. White wigs and white glasses had to give the impression of a double negative.
Accompanied by French music, starry sky and rotating shiny blue balls hanging from the ceiling, the collection created a winter atmosphere. “Tu and moi” was more romantic, however, accompanied by kind of nervous music, pink fury jackets, girly knee-highs and wrist warmers alternated with elves in tiaras and long dresses. Some had covered faces, maybe a memory of the facemasks we had to wear for almost two years. The collection “Simply Bloom” symbolised the budding of new life, covered heads, thick puffy coats, hoods like buds, ready to bloom and heads covered with lace shawls to symbolize the blooms. Finally, the models threw away their puffy jackets – to show the flowers in full bloom. The Master students’ show ended with a glamorous number of evening gowns, gold and glitter, sequins and fringes. Patterned stockings and white feathers. Killer heels
This was the end of the show, but the party was not over yet, this year is special, as Walter Van Beirendonck, the head of department, will be retiring. In the rain of glittering confetti he was called to the catwalk and soon the whole department was doing a happy dance on the stage, while “Thank you, Walter” was running on the walls in all languages of the students of the fashion department. And there was a good choice of them!
This was the fashion party of the year. BelgianFashion wishes the graduates success and a swift start in their careers. All other students – keep up the good work!