Monday, March 12, 2012

Highlights F/W 2012 Paris: The Belgian Special Edition

With over eighty shows, Paris Fashion Week is the world's most renowned fashion event. I found it difficult to choose just a couple of labels to review, but for me the Belgian designers were among the best. It wouldn't hurt the modest Belgians to be a bit more chauvinistic. That's why, proud as I am of our designers, I decided to do a special on the labels who represented our small country during this international gathering of fashion lovers. For next fall a certain minimalism could be discerned in the collections. Also the oversized trend really persists.

A.F. Vandevorst

A.F. Vandevorst, F/W 2012, Paris
'Le Film Noir' isn't far away in this brilliant collection by partners An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx. The black fedora hat has become a symbol of these dark detective movies which reached the height of their popularity in the 40's and originated from the German expressionists movement. Inspiration was also drawn from the German artist Joseph Beuys, who regularly wore similar head gear. The materials and colors used: grays, blacks, felt, rabbit skin are a reference to his art. The covering of the face has a direct link with his performance 'I like America and America likes me', where he spent 3 days locked in with a coyote. 

Joseph Beuys with rabbit, 1982
Joseph Beuys, I like America and America likes me, 1974
Vandevorst managed to bring together these elements and create a captivating show.

Haider Ackermann

Haider Ackermann, F/W 2012
Allthough Haider Ackermann isn't technically Belgian, I always include him in this category. He grew up in the Netherlands but studied at the Academy of Antwerp. Right now, he's being represented by the same Belgian management as Ann Demeulemeester. His collection was so amazing that I decided not to be fussy about the definition 'Belgian'.
This season Ackermann has really outdone himself. His signature draping made way for a more simple construction of the pieces. The result is an unconstrained elegance painted in a simply divine color palette. 

Cédric Charlier

Cédric Charlier, F/W 2012, Paris
Cédric Charlier lost his job as creative director of Cacharel last year, obviously it didn't stand in the way of his own collection blossoming. The pieces are very Belgian: classic quality tailoring with an edge. Very wearable, but I would love to see what Charlier is capable of when he shakes the shackles of the realistic.

Ann Demeulemeester

Ann Demeulemeester, F/W 2012, Paris
Ann Demeulemeester's distinctive style doesn't waver in this Fall collection. The designer picks up on the trend of oversized leather gloves but integrates them in the beautiful dresses. What amazes me is that the designer can stay true to this very characteristic warrior woman type, but always gives the crowd something new. That's what I call talent.

Dries van Noten

Dries Van Noten, F/W 2012, Paris
As always Van Noten awed the world with his magnificent collage prints. The colors were again splendid with punches of white, which made the whole collection lighter and easier to digest. High rised pants and oversized dresses with emphasis on a slightly lowered waist are reminiscent of the seventies. Lovely collection with some 'to die for pieces' like the shoes, what else did you expect from the Belgian master himself? 

Veronique Leroy

Veronique Leroy, F/W 2012, Paris
Over the last few years Veronique Leroy, as one of the least known Belgian designers, has really caught my eye. No different with this season, where I was pleasantly surprised by the youthful pieces and interesting proportions. Although the styling was a bit old fashioned, the clothes definitely struck the right chord. The combination of different materials and volumes looked incredibly interesting.

Anthony Vaccarello

Anthony Vaccarello, F/W 2012, Paris
'Bruxellois' Vaccarello doesn't make a secret of his Italian roots in this slick collection. Satin, gold and iridescent green make for a kind of glamour seldom seen in Belgian design. The most deserving was the contraposition of the sexy cut out tops and masculine suits. 

Now tell me us Belgians -'kiekenfretters', 'sinjoren', 'manenblussers', 'stroppendragers' and all the others- don't have a right to be proud of our fashion contribution. I'm curious about your opinion on these designers. Belgian or not, let me know which Belgian collection you like best and why. Spread the new Belgian pride!

The Mere Alchemist