The highly anticipated annual Fashion Show of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts took place this past weekend in the industrial Northwest district of the city. The location – a large hangar beside the canal – was an interesting choice. For while the unrefined character of the neighbourhood was not at all in line with the evident intricacy of the students work, the overall sense of liberty offered by this kind of no-rules and international place of embarkment – a port – went hand in hand with young designers’ equally evident creative exploration.
Words Timothy Palma, photography Timothy Palma and Melika Ngombe
Comprising collections varying from first to fourth year students, the show successfully displayed the incredible technical skills and talent of the Academy’s student body. The work of students in their first, second and third year was showcased on the catwalk, with the final year students presenting their entire thesis collections. Visible especially amongst the bachelor collections, it was clear that the Academy prizes concept as well as craft. Second year Sabrina Fischer’s “The artefact and the living” collection included a woven satchel creating the image of a cartoonish child hugging its wearer’s torso. “Amaranthine”, created by third year Leonnet Derksen, was a spectacular collection of walking banquet tables, layered like cakes and animated by the only body parts visible beneath them: the legs.
Amongst the work of masters students, the creations of Marie Cramer and Johan Åkesson were particularly remarkable. Cramer’s collection, entitled “Like a Painting”, was of an ornithological persuasion, featuring soft, ovoid dresses that seemed, like hummingbirds, to hover in place around the models’ bodies, each with a matching gilded egg shaped headpiece. Åkesson’s equally impressive collection “To Her” was much more down to earth… literally. Working in menswear, the sleek and simple designs of his looks were accentuated with plant life: each outfit’s respective sack carried a selection of greenery. Whether or not these two collections were purposefully presented back-to-back, this juxtaposition of concept, aesthetic and execution—the suspended and the grounded, the ornate and the simple, the feminine and masculine—wonderfully represented the strikingly dynamic character of the Royal Academy’s students.
Most of this year’s featured collections, as well as the student’s portfolios, can be viewed on the Academy’s Fashion Department’s comprehensive website.