Antwerp Alumni 2011

We talk to three graduating students from the prestigious Fashion institute in Antwerp after they showcased their collections to find out what lessons they have learnt on the course

Fashion Incoming
Hornof, photography Martin Bing

Every year in June, for three evenings in a row, the Fashion Department of Antwerp unleashes its fashion design students’ final collections. One of the world’s most intently watched fashion schools, overseen by Walter Van Beirendonck and with Raf Simons and Ann Demeulemeester amongst its alumi, the Academy is known for allowing an abundance of creativity to be exhibited. Unlike most institutions the Academy’s first year students are encouraged to showcase their beginners’ work with the same level of professionalism as their fourth year counterparts. A four-hour fashion marathon ensues – showing a true parcours of the highs and lows of the students’ steep learning curves. It’s nearly midnight when the Master students get their turn, but the seven graduates provide a climax that is sure to have talent scouts ready to snatch up the next creative directors that will head the world’s established fashion houses. Dazed Digital picked out three Master students to elaborate on their final year collection.

Dazed Digital: Your collection is named ‘WIRES 10.0’. Does that reference some kind of modernity with regards to your approach?
Jantine Van Peski: In a way, yes. I took an old-fashioned technique, macramé, as the starting point for my collection and in different ways I wanted to create a collection that doesn’t look like this old macramé-work. I wanted to create something new out of it, without too many references.

DD: How would you define fashion?
Jantine Van Peski:
As something ever changing, personal and fulfilling. Everyone has a certain feeling about clothes and it’s always related to your emotions. I love to work around the body to tell a story and it gives people the opportunity to tell their own story.

DD: What kind of woman do you envisage wearing your designs?
Jantine Van Peski:
A strong but mysterious young woman, with a serene and poetic aura around her.

DD: What lesson will you always carry with you from the Academy?
Jantine Van Peski:
To let things go and challenge yourself over and over again. It is not about the feeling to reach a goal and that’s it. For me it’s more like a life-time process in which you express and develop yourself. Wires 10.0: the first edition of a piece of me, hopefully more versions will follow.

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Dazed Digital: Silhouettes from your previous years also use the very sculptural shapes strongly present in your graduate collection. Is that one of your design starting points?
Frederick Adrian Hornof
: In my design process I very much focus on the profile view. I think it is an exciting view to shape and extend the body and especially with my graduation collection I wanted to experiment with sculpting collars.

DD: The woman you depict is statuesque, very unreal woman. Do you think fashion needs a bit of distance from day-to-day clothing?

Frederick Adrian Hornof: This collection for me was about reinstating a style from another era while translating those same ideas to a woman of tomorrow. I believe one woman's day-to-day is different to the next, so in a way my designs are for everyday wear.

DD: What lesson will you always carry with you from the Academy?
Frederick Adrian Hornof:
To be yourself.

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Dazed Digital: While your collection criticizes fashion’s rules of fronts and backs of silhouettes, your pieces still have a classic feel to them and are wearable. Is that something you want to achieve?
Leonneke Derksen:
Yes and no. I was inspired by Danish photographer Asger Carlsen. In his pictures he changes the human body proportions. For me it was really a challenge to think about what would happen to clothes when the body changes. That’s why I worked with corsets that change the body to appear the other way around, so that the clothes are completely different. Wearing the clothes as such is totally unwearable, but when you change them back around (without corsets) they are wearable again. It’s really all a game that combines couture and prêt-a-porter. The viewer decides which is what.

DD: Do you start off with materials or silhouette?
Leonneke Derksen:
Both. While I think about shapes and concept I look for fabrics that I like. I especially look at colour a lot.

DD: What does fashion mean to you?
Leonneke Derksen:
For me fashion is a statement and a dreamworld at once. I think you can say a lot with a strong silhouette and image. It’s all about a story you want to tell. Also, fashion is an escape from reality for me – something to make this world a little nicer by creating something beautiful.

DD: What lesson will you always carry with you from the Academy?
Leonneke Derksen:
To never give up on your dreams. To never think you’ve made it already. Everything can always be better, but at the same time being really proud and happy about what you’ve achieved. Knowing who you are and what you want to be in life.

Photography: Martin Bing

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