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Ann Boogaerts

Lighting up with Lichting 2009

Arnhem Academy’s Ann Boogaerts wins the crowd over with her collection inspired by a fictional Queen with dual national allegiance.

Amsterdam Fashion Week has taken strides towards getting their baby of a fashion week up there in amongst rising cities like Berlin, Copenhagen and Stockholm.  One of the most interesting initiatives that AIFW have on their schedule is the Lichting show sponsored by G-Star. The premise is that seven of Holland’s fashion academies select two of their best fashion graduates and put them in a joint show that is judged by the industry with one ultimate winner taking home a grand prize of EUR10,000 and an opportunity to go on an inspiration trip to New York with G-Star.  Not surprisingly Lichting has become one of the key highlights of the Amsterdam Fashion Week schedule, which is a good indication of the city becoming a hotspot for emerging fashion talent. There’s a healthy amount of competition between the academies and the fact that ArtEZ Institute of Arts in Arnhem grads have won Lichting for the past two years is somewhat of a sticking point. This competiive spirit has probably been further exacerbated given that this year’s winner is yet another Arnhem grad.

Ann Boogaerts, deservedly won the majority vote with a finesse that shone through from conception to execution. In her head, she imagined a fictional Belgian queen called Fabiola who falls in love with a Dutch man and thus goes on an eclectic style journey, fusing big hair, heavy embroidery and jewels with bright colours and odd shapes. A mash-up of the Belgian and Dutch national anthems was the perfect musical accompaniment at the show. We speak to Boogaerts about how she dreamt up her imaginary muse and what she’s going to be doing with all that dosh.

Dazed Digital: What made you decide to go with the theme of Queen Fabiola?
Ann Boogaerts: Well, about half a year ago I was in my grandmother's house, and I found an old viewmaster with plates from the 1958 World Fair that took place in Brussels, Belgium. Inspired by its dreamy positive atmosphere as an escape from the crisis, I created a fictional story about Fabiola. She is a true muse for me, because her way of dressing is characteristic of the Belgian bourgeoisie and she's so humble and graceful...
Later on I integrated some facts of my own life into the story: my Queen Fabiola falls in love with a Dutch man and comes to Holland as a Belgian, just like me (I came to Arnhem to study fashion at the Artez academy). I wanted to make the two countries, their cultural differences and stereotypes melt in my collection, because they came together in my own world too..

DD: What would you say is your design signature?
Ann Boogaerts: I think it is a way to express my love for shape, material and handcraft, a way for a woman to look quite extreme but feminine, and always feel comfortable in her outfit, no mather how big her angular shaped skirt is.

DD: What did you think of your fellow graduates who took part of Lichting - were there ones that stood out for you?
Ann Boogaerts: There were definitely ones that stood out for me...I loved Ratna Ho's collection: the fabrics, the pastel colors, the way she expressed herself in her refined materials. And then the leather shapes from Malousebastiaan, the golden vest from Twan Meijerink...

DD: The Arnhem school has a very famous reputation - why do you think out of all the academies, it has been so successful in competitions like Lichting and internationally too?
Ann Boogaerts: I believe Artez has a strong reputation because of it's fine way of teaching: it's a combination of craftmanship, developing a student's fashion sense, a lot of research before making a concept, experiencing the industry itself, and of course, the required discipline...

DD:What do you plan to do with your prize money!
Ann Boogaerts: I would like to say something juicy here, but the truth is obliging me to tell you that I'll spend it entirely on the Parisian economy, as I'll be attending the IFM (Institut Française de la Mode) in September...

All photography by Peter Stigter.