At the start of the new century, the fashion industry in Antwerp starts to become more formalised – in 2000 work begins to renovate ModeNatie, the building that two years later will become home to the Mode Museum, the Flanders Fashion Institute (an organisation that supports designers working in the region) and the Fashion Department of the Academy. In 2001, Antwerp is given over to a city-wide celebration of fashion ‘Mode2001 Landed-Geland’, curated by Walter Van Beirendonck. As well as exhibitions and fashion shows, the event sees the launch of the Antwerp fashion magazine that goes on to become the highly influential A Magazine Curated By.
Students from the Fashion Department of the Academy continue to win prestigious awards, and establish new labels based in the city. 2001 sees a particularly fine crop of launches; Bruno Pieters becomes the first graduate from the Academy to present a couture collection during Paris Couture Week. Made up only of suits, the collection prefigures the technical skills and crisp silhouettes for which he would become known in the following years. Tim Van Steenbergen’s debut is distinguished by the young designer’s ability to create extraordinary supporting structures over which fabric tumbles luxuriously. Haider Ackermann also presents his first collection in Paris this year. His sensuous draping and supple silhouettes attract the attention of Ann Demeulemeester – in 2005 he will join her fashion group BVBA 32, and continue to work from Antwerp.
Christian Wijnants' 2000 graduation collection wins the Grand Prix at Hyères, and his deft knitwear and subtle sense of colour continue to win acclaim when he launches his own label in 2003. Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos graduate in 2004 and 2005 respectively and work together in Antwerp before launching their acclaimed label in London in 2007.