Antwerp Fashion Today
Walter Van Beirendonck is now head of the Fashion Department at the Academy, Raf Simons is creative director of Dior (Kris Van Assche, an Antwerp-educated designer, is coincidentally creative director of Dior Homme), Dries Van Noten has highly individual stores in fashion capitals around the world, and America’s first lady has taken a shine to the designs of Peter Pilotto.
Back in Antwerp, the Fashion Department is welcoming an increasingly international roster of students. Acclaimed recent graduates include Indonesian-born jewellery designer Heaven Tanundiredja, Ukraine-born women’s designer Lena Lumelsky, Thai-born jewellery designer Ek Thongprasert, and South Korean-born Minju Kim, many of whom have stayed on to start their own labels in the city. This growing community of young designers based in Antwerp has been supported by the arrival of conceptual high fashion boutiques like RA and Atelier Solarshop.
With the blossoming of street-style photography, Antwerp’s dynamic fashion scene has earned the city a reputation as a hip destination, discussed enthusiastically on influential blogs like The Sartorialist, Style Bubble and A Shaded View on Fashion. Influential fashion developments in the city are not restricted to pure experiments in style– in 2012 designer Bruno Pieters launches Honestby, the world’s first economically transparent sustainably-produced high-fashion label.
In 2013 the Fashion Department of the Academy reaches a landmark 50th anniversary, celebrated by exhibitions and events across the city and renewed examination of Antwerp’s fashion heritage.