Antwerp’s Newest Talent
Adrian Madlener, a recent graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven, is a designer turned journalist. Originally from Belgium, he grew up in New York where an early interest in architecture exposed him to a wide range of creative disciplines; everything from contemporary dance to fine art, and eventually design. During his studies in Eindhoven, Adrian discovered that his true calling lays within design theory, history, and criticism. Though writing is his best design tool, he still gains great satisfaction from sketching, modeling, and experimenting with material. The critic should create to critique. Recently back in his native Brussels, Adrian shares his perspective on Belgium’s rapidly growing creative front.
Along the edge of Antwerp’s massive shipping lanes, the converted Hangar 28 played host to one of this city’s highly influential events, The 2013 Antwerp Fashion Department Défilé on June 14th/15th. Fashion rings through these quiet but highly cultivated streets, the noise of course comes from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Artesis) Antwerp Fashion Department or the nearby Nationaalstraat with its globally heralded fashion showrooms and MoMu fashion museum. Of course this year was special, celebrating the 50 years of this faculty’s inception, certainly in tune with Flander’s long tradition of textile production. Perhaps more recent in history, the 2013 Antwerp Fashion Show also marked the 30 year reunion of the Antwerp Six forming the jury for the 4th year masters, who respectively, made quite a loud entrance into the fashion world.
Since Van Notten, Demeulemeester, Van Saene, Yee, Van Beirendonck, and Bikkembergs broke out onto the scene almost 30 years ago, their alma mater has seen an explosion of international recognition as one of the top Fashion program, eventually resulting in a predominantly international student body. Amongst this year’s 14 graduating masters, only 3 were Flemish but arguably their work stood out.
The défilé showed approximately 100 collections, moving from 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year bachelors to the greatly anticipated 4th year masters. The subsequent themes, “skirt, dress, experiment,” “historical costumes,” and “ethical costumes,” reflected the style of rigorous education this school implements as studentd progress through the years of study.
Which later echoed through the master’s collections, with a clear sense of having fully grasped each of these essential steps.
Burning up the fire bolt shaped runway where the “Play Time,” and “LENA” collections by both Flemish fashion designers Mattia Van Severen and Wim Bruynooghe respectively.
Van Severen’s “Play Time,” took reference from Jacques Tati’s film of the same name. Juxtaposing this modernist oeuvre, a highly current exploration of minimalist shapes perfectly integrated complex textures and patterns. With an artistic trompe l’oeuill effect of negative and positive space, large geometric flocked planes of color defied the garments seams, in turn creating huge disproportional color gradient surfaces. Modestly abstracted, an eclectic mix of fluid earth tone greens and browns were subdued by deep blues but equally sparked by accents of yellow.
Bruynooghe’s “LENA” studied the bond between artist and muse, perhaps even the fame fatale. Set upon the dramatic landscape of the Belgian seaside village of De Haan, the austere modernist icon of an elegant lady frozen in posture referred to the artist’s characterized illusion of his muse, not her true identity. This tension was translated into a series of multilayered garments where the under layers of draped fabric alluded to a true femininity and the top layer of clear rubber with illustrated scenes referred to a prescribed characterization. These beautifully integrated pieces reveal something of a translated modernism for our times.