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Flanders Fashion Institute's 2008 Crop of Designers

The FFI's 2008 line up of designers aren't necessarily Belgian but showcase the best of what Belgian fashion schools are breeding.

Not every fashion school in the world is fortunate enough to be able to showcase their work in the thick of things during a schedule as hectic as Paris Ready to Wear fashion week.  Graduates of the famous Antwerp Fashion Academy however have that prime opportunity in the form of SHOWROOM ANTWERP, organised by the Flanders Fashion Institute, which in October presented its 4th edition in Paris. The variety and depth of what Antwerp produces can not only be seen in the 'old guard' of designers; Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester, Bernhard Willhelm, Raf Simons and Dries Van Noten. Today's Antwerp fashion landscape is further diversified by the make up of the Antwerp Royal Academy.  "Over the past 25 years, the students of the Antwerp Academy have become more and more international. There are about 30 nationalities studying at the academy. This also means that it is difficult to speak about Belgian designers or Antwerp designers," explains David Flamée of the FFI. Flamée however does identify the common strand that connects all Antwerp-bred designers that have emerged throughout the years; "There is a strong feel of identity and tradition, craftsmanship; these are also the values and methods taught at the Academy."

This season, the FFI have once again put together a selection of designers that are a mix of those that are semi-established and those that are making fresh debuts.

Mikio Sakabe
Sakabe has been presenting at Showroom Antwerp since its inception and has recently shown his S/S 09 collection during Tokyo Fashion Week and at the White Club in Milan. The collection takes a more innocent direction than previous efforts as Sakabe takes elements of the Chinese cheongsam and works them into mandarin collared pastel dresses contrasted with iridescent ribbed leggings. He also plays with notions of European elegance as Chanel-style tweed suits have metallic threads shot through them.

Ek Thongprasert
The first collection from this Bangkok-born designer is all about the positive and negative energies of LO-VE. Through fabrics that Thongprasert has developed himself using a plethora of techniques such as intricate ribbon bunching, hand dying and ruching, we get a mix of voluminous shapes (love's beginnings) and harsher, more stricter silhouettes (the broken heart).

Pelican Avenue
Carolin Lerch has always utilised the video medium as a form of presentation alongside her collections. The movement of the S/S 09 collection "Calyx" is fully expressed in the video with the sound of thumping drums beating along with the dresses moving on a body. Prints have always dominated Pelican Avenue's work and a strange rainforest utopia is imagined by Lerch with digital prints that are made even more alive with a vivid tropical palette.

Demna Gvsalia
The 2006 grad from Antwerp has been busy with various projects and has now presented his first womenswear collection which will be operated on the basis of a made-to-measure design atelier. The original couturier Charles Worth has inspired Gvasalia to explore traditional craftsmanship in contemporary fashion codes.

Peter Hornstein
The winner of 2007's 1,2,3 prize at Hyeres, Peter Bertsch has given himself a new last name and has presented the label's first collection. The spaceship interiors seen in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey lead to hi-tech fabrics used to emulate spaceship surfaces. Lace gets a new interpretation as here it is lasercut and has the look of a sportswear material.

Heaven Tanudiredja
This accessories couture designer has had his jewellery interpreted by the filmmaker Malcolm Pate (seen on Dazed Digital) and has again chosen to work with antique materials for his S/S 09 collection. Old jade has been rediscovered and reworked to make the slightly intimidating yet unusually organic pieces.