Front Row at Antwerp Royal Academy’s 2012 Show

Every year, roughly 6,000 pilgrims make their way to Antwerp to see the Royal Academy’s catwalk show. Featuring all four years of the program, the 4-hour show ranges from bauhaus-like formal explorations, to art and historical investigations – and winds up with a grand finale of the graduating class collections. Check out the entire show:

The school has a special place in the hearts of fashion industry’s elite as the leading institution for conceptual and critical design, design that explores, questions and enlightens. Under the guidance of Walter Van Bierendonck and his team, students at the academy spend 4 years developing a personal voice and vision that sets these graduates apart.

Last week I had the pleasure of being part of the graduation jury, which gave me a chance to see the collections up-close in installations that ranged from a classical formal garden, to a sculpture studio surrounded by plaster castings. The jury experienced the clothing as live theater, at times with movement and music to complement the pieces, and got to hear the story of the development and inspiration behind the design.

A few highlights:

For his story of ‘Le Petit Prins’ Miquel Boutens marched doll-like boys in a circle in a formal garden setting, complete with live violinist. In construction as carefully controlled as his setting, the pieces were delicately sewn with witty references that the fashion designers in the jury enjoyed.

In another extreme setting, Marius Janusaukas selected an historic intimate, 2-floor library to show his collection “Sleeping Beauties”. Literary references to the undead, illness and decay played out in his pieces, with delicate fabrics aged in dirt, burnt edges, hospital-gown like ties, and blood-red threading throughout.

A clear favorite, evident from the many prizes awarded following the show, was Manon Kündig. Her collection brought references of global migration and gender relations. The animal metaphor adding a lighthearted yet biting humor to a collection that is playfully challenging and a visual feast of color and pattern, with materials as surprising as chicken feet!

We’ve already invited several womenswear graduates from this year onto MUUSE, and can’t wait to offer pieces for sale by these talents! Check out Antwerp talent from years past we’re already working with: Lars Paschke, Nathalie Fordeyn, Jantine van Peski and Elise Gettliffe.

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