Antwerp: An Innovative Approach

When I was invited to visit Antwerp as part of their celebrations of 50 years of their Fashion Academy, part of their Royal Academy of Fine Art, I was delighted. Antwerp has always intrigued me.

Anyone interested in fashion and particularly some of fashion’s more influential designers will be aware of Antwerp. The Antwerp Six (Walter van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Norten, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs, Marina Yee) who were all graduates of this department. They are all still hugely influential designers. What was it about their fashion education that made this possible?


Walter Van Beirendonck

As head of a major fashion education institution I am intrigued to understand how van Beirendonck, who is currently head of this department, is keeping Antwerp at the forefront of fashion’s avant garde thinking. But it was not just the Antwerp Six who made such a significant impact on fashion. Martin Margiela and Raf Simons, both Belgian, are designers that all fashion students are familiar with and inspired by.

So too is Antwerp’s Musea : ModeMuseum, where a number of ground breaking fashion exhibitions have been curated that have inspired countless fashion students, academics and museum curators. It has long been on my list of museums to visit as has Antwerp’s innovative approach to fashion retail, which is based on its 500 years of trading history. I will have much to see and learn when I arrive later today.