This Is Belgium

Martin, Ann, Raf and Dries: les Belges have defined modern dressing. Here, we preview three of today's brightest Belgians

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A young fashion photographer with a unique approach gets free licence to shoot the collections of five up-and-coming Belgian designers from two different perspectives – that’s the concept for this season’s [les belges] showroom in Paris. The selection of designers – a.Knackfuss, Calogero Di Natale, Filles à Papa, M.P. Coudeyre and KRJST – let their collections be captured by Quentin de Wispelaere, a contributor to Dazed Digital and AnOther, among others.

He  approached the collections from two complementary angles: as still-lifes in one series and styled on a model by Philippe Pourhashemi, a fashion journalist and the artistic director of the project. The strong and distinct identities of each label shine through by effectively showing the garments pure and simple and by simultaneously exploring their versatility. Dazed picked out three designers to watch.

KRJST

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Justine de Moriamé and Erika Schillebeeckx joined forces to form KRJST, a collective that thrives on the cross-pollination of polymorphic identities, dualities and antagonism. 

DD: Tell us about your collection.

KRJST: This is our first collection, of which we are now presenting the woman’s line, here in Paris. It takes its inspiration from the silent nature of Catholicism, exploring its iconography and symbols. On the other hand, it draws on hippie culture and a desire for self-expression and sub-culture. Guest collaborators from the art world, like the illustrator Monsieur Pimpant, have developed our prints, which are the collection’s eye-catchers. They are allegorical expressions of the KRJST1 ethos, exploring the themes of melancholy, alienation and extravagance. 

Guest collaborators from the art world have developed our prints, which are the collection’s eye-catchers. They are allegorical expressions of the KRJST1 ethos, exploring the themes of melancholy, alienation and extravagance. 

DD: What's the biggest challenge for you as designers trying to run your own brand?

KRJST: It’s only been a year and a half now since we graduated from La Cambre. So, it’s a big challenge for us to run our own brand so soon. Every step has still to be learned but luckily we have a great support system. The biggest challenge for us is to balance the artistic aspect with the commercial aspect. We want to be able to continue to create without frustration and to be able to establish our own way of viewing life and fashion. It’s necessary to learn to use both sides of our brain, not just the artistic side! 

 

M.P. Coudeyre

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M.P. Coudeyre’s collections are typefied by their narrative quality, executed with a high level of craftsmanship, always with a refreshing take.

DD: What’s the story behind this collection?

Coudeyre: Every season I create a new atmosphere, a new world which I transpose and translate in my choice of fabrics and colours, the study of shapes and cuts, and the creation of a particular silhouette. This season the collection is called "Matador", as a reference to traditional Spanish traditional bullfighting. I wanted this winter collection to be positive and optimistic, so I used colours like fuchsia, orange, red and turquoise – all colours that appear in traditional Torero costumes. I imagined a love story between the matador and his girlfriend, who throws flowers into the arena at the end of the spectacle. For this I developed prints of flowers in emerald green and brandy shades. The collection is composed of feminine draped pieces as well as more masculine Bolero jackets and there is a wide possibility of mixing and matching combinations. I was also inspired by the work of Cristobal Balenciaga and reinterpreted his cocoon shape in several dresses and coats.

The fashion industry today is dominated by big groups, who put up amazing shows and create collections which are meant to promote accessory lines and cosmetics, but is it really what people need? Is it really representative of all the young creativity out there?

DD: What's the biggest challenge for you as a designer trying to run your own brand?

Coudeyre: The biggest challenge is the visibility of the product, how and where to present it and the contact with the clients. The fashion industry today is dominated by big groups, who put up amazing shows and create collections which are meant to promote accessory lines and cosmetics, but is it really what people need? Is it really representative of all the young creativity out there? I’ve had to find new ways and met a lot of people who help me every day to find the right channel to present the product to buyers, who are overwhelmed by the incredible offer and ever-shorter seasons. I believe in a slower, attentive and caring product.

a.Knackfuss

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Inventive cuts and innovative fabrics are a.Knackfuss trademark, whose interesting use of layers and prints creates striking contemporary silhouettes. 

DD: What inspired this collection?

a. Knackfuss: ‘Syncopia’, the name of the collection, is a compound word of  ‘syncopation’, which means a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm, and ‘Utopia’, a community or society possessing perfect qualities. The collection is inspired by the character of Rachael in Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner, who lives in a kind of dystopia. It’s about that point when fantasy and visions of the future become entangled with nostalgia, the need for sophistication in a classic sense, as a kind of reminder that time does not forget true style. The volumes and layers of the pieces suggest a kind of protective clothing, and the colours, ranging from purple to grey and olive, are inspired by giant gas clouds from deep space known as  ‘nebulae’. The prints are cross-influenced by fractal geometry and a Japanese dying technique called ‘Shibori’. Pleats and checks stand for geometric rhythms and repetitions. The accessories are made exclusively out of cellulose acetate.

‘Syncopia’, the name of the collection, is a compound word of  ‘syncopation’, which means a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rhythm, and ‘Utopia’, a community or society possessing perfect qualities.

What's your biggest challenge as a designer?

A. Knackfuss: I guess that would be to make 5 jobs work:  in addition to being a designer you have to be a businessman- or woman, an accountant, a production manager, a patternmaker and a dressmaker. And even if you don't have to do everything on your own, you do have to supervise everything and take full responsibility of all that is happening with your brand. It’s a big challenge, but when the results are satisfying it’s totally worth it.

Photographer : Quentin De Wispelaere

Styling : Philippe Pourhashemi

Hair & Make-up : Esther Wauthers for MAC Cosmetics

Model : Luka at Ulla Models

Photo Assistant : Anton Lothin

Retouching : Manon Patry 

Special thanks to Giorgia Morero, Dominique Lefebvre, Leslie Lombard, La Fabrique 22A Studios

[les belges] is a seasonal showroom organized by Wallonie Bruxelles Design Mode, a government-funded agency that promotes Belgian designers internationally. Until March 10 they are at the No Season showroom, 8 bis, rue de Braque, 75003 Paris.

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