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Antwerp Graduate Show 2018
Antwerp Graduate Show 2018Photography Bram Van Beek

S&M babes, giant hats, & cartoons take over at Antwerp’s 2018 grad show

From first years to Masters, each of the school’s design students presented their collections

This feature is part of a series of collaborative content brought to you with help from our friends at 1 Granary.

The graduate season has started, which means that fashion schools everywhere have begun showcasing their students’ work. None do it quite so spectacularly, however, as the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Antwerp. Loyal fans travel annually from across the world just to catch a glimpse of what happens here, and it’s easy to see why.

While most fashion departments allow only a limited number of graduates to share their designs, in Antwerp, every single student is granted their moment in the spotlight. From the first years’ joy-themed experiments right through to the Masters’ full collections, attendees see it all. If you want to get a sense of what it’s like to study at an art school (inspiring, emotional, exhausting and energising, all at once!), this show is a good place to start.

Changing things up from last year, the catwalk stretched in a large circle across the vast hangar, giving spectators plenty of opportunity to take in all elements of each silhouette. As for the work, there was a torrent of colour and volume and no limits when it came to what can be considered a garment.

Highlights included work from second-year menswear designers Siqi Sensen Li and Fabian Leinweber, who twisted gender norms through massive orange skirts and meticulously crafted corsets. One year above them, Nel Maertens released a set of cartoon-esque characters with her ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’ collection, while Yelizaveta Volosovska presented a hyper-romantic dreamlike story.

Elsewhere, the Masters students celebrated powerful women, all in different ways. Kjell de Meersman created an army of S&M babes, while Gennaro Genni Velotti was heavily influenced by his carefree mother. Sicilian-born Federica Di Leo paid homage to Rita Atria, a 17-year-old girl who took her own life to protect her testimony against the Mafia. A difficult subject, but one handled deftly and with care – proving (as if any further evidence was needed) the talent and skill of the students that pass through the institution's hallowed halls. 

Head to the gallery above to see more from the show.