The Reunited States of Belgian Fashion

The Reunited States of Belgian Fashion

ANTWERP, BelgiumWalter Van Beirendonck, director of the fashion department at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, and Tony Delcampe, his counterpart at La Cambre in Brussels, have moulded some of the most acclaimed artistic directors in recent years.

On Beirendonck’s honour roll: Raf Simons, Kris van Assche at Dior, and Demna Gvasalia at Vetements and Balenciaga. On Delcampe’s list: Anthony Vaccarello at Versus Versace then Saint Laurent, and Julien Dossena at Paco Rabanne.

Through their students, these two men have exerted a significant influence on the global fashion industry. At the helm and in the creative studios of some of the most prestigious brands are numerous “Belgians” who have infused the fashion scene with a Belgian identity begun by the ‘Antwerp Six’ (Beirendonck, himself, is one of the six) since the mid-eighties.

In a world where many of the most prestigious fashion courses are privately funded and expensive to attend, The Royal Academy and La Cambre stand out not only as hothouses of talent, but as publicly-funded institutions. And yet, these two influential men had never met until this year.

For 30 years, “Flemish” and “Brussels” fashion have been compared and contrasted: the Antwerp Academy stands for a modernised mix of the radical legacy of ‘the Six’, combined with a focus on loud colours and cuts; while La Cambre’s particular take on minimalism yields pared down collections featuring ultra-modern cuts and volumes. Haider Ackermann in the North, Cédric Charlier in the South.

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