Antwerp-based Peter Ceursters is a regular fixture on the local fashion scene. The friendly and witty manager of the Acne store is also a talented accessory designer, creating seasonal collections of intricate scarves and waistcoats. Ceursters’ creations are pure Belgian deconstruction, deftly navigating the boundaries between accessory and clothing. Inspired and informed by an intimate love affair that turned into a rather complicated one, he launched his own brand in 2009, currently stocked by Louis in Antwerp and Haleluja in Brussels.
What was your inspiration behind the winter collection?
This collection was very much about me and the fabrics and colours I like to wear. The scarves were also about my feelings for a person I had become involved with, but our story had become too complex and difficult.
Was it all about love then?
Yes, it was.
Has the relationship ended?
Yes, it has.
How did you feel about this?
In a way, it was a liberation for me. Of course, you miss the person, but you just have to move on and stay positive.
You named the collection “And this one is for me”. Did you regain your sense of self after the break-up?
Yes, I did. In fact, that’s precisely what the collection dealt with.
What fabrics did you use?
When you are single, you no longer have someone to keep you warm. I used merino wool and chunkier knits, as well as a flannel check shirt. These are the kinds of clothes you would normally wear during the winter, but this time they ended up around your neck.
Why did you focus on scarves?
I’ve always liked the idea that you could make other things out of the garments you already own and view them from a different perspective. The idea of transformation really appeals to me. It was therefore logical to work on scarves as they are close to the body. It’s the kind of accessory I like to wear everyday. For this collection’s samples, I worked with one-off garments that I turned into scarves, but the actual production was handled elsewhere.
I’ve always liked the idea that you could make other things out of the garments you already own and view them from a different perspective.
Where are the scarves produced?
My production is currently in China. Manufacturing in Belgium is really expensive and people have budget limitations for such items. They’re not going to spend crazy amounts of money on a scarf. My pieces are complex as well, and ateliers can get scared when they see the samples. I guess there are too many operations involved. I still make all the samples myself though. That’s important for me and I enjoy the whole process, regardless of the amount of time it may take.
Do you actually go to China to supervise the production?
No, I don’t. I’ve got an agent who’s doing that for me. Ideally, I’d like to be able to make everything myself and would prefer to work with Belgian manufacturers.
Who are your stockists at the moment?
I sell to Louis in Antwerp, Waldraud in Zurich and Haleluja in Brussels.
Was there not a conflict between your position as a store manager and designing your own line?
Not at all. In fact, Marjan Eggers -who happens to be my boss- was always supportive of my work and accommodating as well.
When did you create your own brand?
I set it up two and a half years ago. I think it sort of happened. I suppose everyone dreams of having their own label, even though it was never a top priority for me. Other things in life matter much more.
Are you telling a story through accessories then?
Definitely. There’s a narrative thread that I use and it’s important that something emotional gets out of my pieces. I want people to respond to my collection in a subjective way, because the line feels very personal. For instance, my last summer collection is completely different in terms of feel and message. I added more fabrics, worked mostly with silks and developed some waistcoat shapes. The colours were brighter and generally more cheerful. I guess the winter collection had to do with breaking things down and starting from scratch. It was a step I had to go through in order to progress.
Is that the reason why your summer collection feels more hopeful?
Yes, of course. I got closure with the winter collection and the very last one was about looking forward to things and enjoying life. People have the tendency to complain all the time, but they lose touch of what is important in the end, like health, friendship and respect.
Would you say that fashion can be therapeutic then?
Maybe it can. I think you can only touch people with your work if you tell them stories that are genuine and come from your heart. They have to be able to relate to them. That’s what I try to do with my line anyway.