BELGIAN FASHION: THE CREATIVE DNA OF A NATION

By Kledir Salgado
Fashion designer with a Masters in Textile and Fashion by USP

Have you heard about the Belgian fashion? Belgium is a leading provider of talents in the fashion world since the early 1980s, when a group of colleagues with unpronounceable names, which became known as the “Antwerp Six”, gained international fame.

Composed by Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs, Marina Yee, Dirk Van Saene, Walter Van Beirendonck and Ann Demeulemeester, the class of the Belgian fashion then unknown, has opened the door for other designers such as Raf Simons and Kris Van Assche, who run, respectively, the female and the male style of Dior, or Anthony Vaccarello, responsible for the most affordable line of Donatella Versace.

Without forgetting the mysterious Martin Margiela, the fascinating Haider Ackermann or Olivier Theyskens, who signs the collections of the north-american Theory, after having passed by the French maisons Rochas and Nina Ricci. Other names are Raf Simons, Dries Van Noten, Martin Margiela and Ann Demeulemeester.

Much of the fame of the contemporary Belgian fashion id due to the movement that became known as The Antwerp Six. They graduated from the Royal Academy of Fines Arts in the early 1980s and had a radical and original vision of fashion. In 1986, the group rented a van and left for London with the car full of their own creations. There, they presented their collections at the show of London Fashion Week.

From left to right: Marina Yee, Dries van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Walter van Beirendonck, Dirk Bikkembergs and Dirk van Saene. Photo: reproduction.

One of the differences of this Belgian fashion group is the building of a strong vision, noted since the first show. The proposals of the designers have always been avant-garde and intelligent. Thus, they created a whole universe, an own vocabulary own, and not just clothes. Many of them began to parade in Paris, as Dries van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester. To date, Dries fashion shows are among the most beautiful and unique to each season.

In Belgium, the academic part is overvalued and the students learn fashion in art universities. Among the major schools, we find the Antwerp Academy and La Cambre in Brussels with amazing teachers, such as Walter van Beirendonck, one of the Antwerp Six founders.

The Belgian fashion is very conceptual and intellectualized. The designers have a lot of personality in creation. However, nothing that might prevent the partnership with most commercial brands, as was the case of Margiela in Hermès and Raf Simons, currently under the creative direction of Jil Sander.

As noted, the fashion intellectualization has built the creative DNA of the Belgian fashion, which has become an example to follow by every fashion designer and by every fashion educational institution in Brazil.

The construction of the Brazilian creative DNA, in turn, will only be effective when we stop copying everything that comes from abroud, when we understand ourselves as a creative nation and, from that, we intellectualize our fashion in order to form a fashion professional who solves problems through a critical view of the world and not of the reproducibility of articles that only reach a greater number of sales.

John Galliano for Margiela

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