Ann Demeulemeester SS96
Ann Demeulemeester SS96
“ANN” interview with the Belgian fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester by Daniel Thawley for SSAW Magazine (Finland), Autumn Winter 2012-13. Pages 190-91.
A Rare Reunion for the ‘Antwerp Six’
ANTWERP — They were known as the ‘’Antwerp Six” back in the 1980s, when the idea of Belgian fashion seemed like a contradiction in terms.
Now names like Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Bikkembergs and Dries Van Noten slip off fashion tongues. And last week, Walter Van Beirendonck, head of the fashion department at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, led a group reunion — 30 years after their own student days — to celebrate their school’s 50th anniversary.
‘’Thirty years — it was a hell of a ride and I don’t regret a minute,’’ said Mr. Bikkembergs, while Dirk Van Saene took a more nostalgic view, saying: ‘’I was never so conscious about it. When you are young, it is different and I regret it now that I didn’t live it 100 percent.’’
The fashion gang, which also included Marina Yee, had loaded its clothes into a truck in 1986 and drove to London, a trip that ended up putting Belgian fashion on the international map of style.
Since then, Ms. Yee remembers only one other occasion when the six got together: To crack a bottle of Champagne at a millennium charity event.
“Lot of memories coming back — but not so much, as we see quite a lot of each other,’’ said Mr. Van Noten, who opened his first tiny store in Antwerp in 1986 and has built his international business from the city. He persuaded Ms. Demeulemeester, who tends to keep to herself in her Le Corbusier house on the edge of the city, to join the group’s celebration this time.
Both admitted to a wave of nostalgia as they walked through a Royal Academy room that had served as a show space during their student days.
‘’I think it was a very exciting moment all together at school,’’ said Ms. Demeulemeester. ‘’It was really nice to go back to the old academy, to feel not much had changed.”
The reunion had a purpose: The established designers were part of a jury viewing the work of students in the four-year master class.
The historic city, with its Gothic spires, grand guildhalls and old wharfs, offered students the chance to select personal environments for their runway shows that could vary from the academy’s underground sculpture room to the opera house, or even a flower shop — more opportunity for self expression than was given to students in the academy’s early days.
The result was a stream of dramatic installations, from the fairground circle created by the Japanese designer Minju Kim to an underground forest of tree-like clothing from Jack Davey.
In September, Kaat Debo, director of MoMu, the Antwerp fashion museum, plans to stage an exhibition to celebrate the fashion school’s 50th anniversary. With the title of ‘’Happy Birthday Dear Academie’’ and an opening date of Sept. 8, it will run in tandem with other exhibitions, events and conferences marking 350 years of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, to be held at MAS, Antwerp’s new city museum, and M HKA, the museum of contemporary art.
Ms. Debo is adamant that the ‘’Antwerp Six’’ were a turning point for the school.
‘’When the fashion academy started 50 years ago, all the students were Flemish — but the ‘Antwerp Six’ made it attractive internationally,’’ Ms. Debo said. ‘’Now there are 27 different nationalities in the 150 students, and it is important to show not only the history of the school but its relevance to the fashion world.’’
John Galliano’s highly anticipated interview with Charlie Rose, his first televised interview since an anti-Semitic rant two years ago derailed his career, aired Wednesday night on public television.
The hour-long interview covered a range of subjects, including Galliano’s childhood in South London and his meteoric rise to the top of the fashion world at Dior, but focused largely on his substance abuse and the events that lead to his fall.
“I’ve spent two years and three months in — you know, followed by therapists, working with top theologists and professors in France to find the answer. It’s true many people say, ‘In vino veritas.’ I’ve since discovered that ‘In vino veritas’ is not quite — it’s not quite as simple as that. Yes, alcohol does loosen up inhibitions, and it’s what’s floating around in the self-conscious that can be called out,” Galliano responded.
Asked about criticism that his alcoholism had lowered the quality of the collections, Galliano said, “The sales were still good.”
“In my mind, I could always do much better. And especially now, in my lucid state, yes, I mean, of course it could be much, much better. I was doing what I felt was right for the two houses,” Galliano said, referencing Dior as well as his namesake label.
“The New Ease”ㅣValerija Kelava by Craig McDeanㅣVogue Italia Oct 2010