antwerp-fashion

Interview: Pierre Renaux - Antwerp Royal Academy Of Fine Arts' Fashion Department

His collection ‘Liquidation Totale’ won him the Coccodrillo award for shoe design and the Antwerp ModeMuseum MoMu award placing his collection on display in the museum (shown until August 11th). As if it’s not enough, Pierre along with 2 other graduates has chosen by Ann Demeulemeester for her upcoming exhibition in Brussels. “I chose Pierre because it was a work clearly based on cuts,” commented Ann Demeulemeester on i-D magazine. “I also chose the work of Jezabelle (Cormio) and Jack (Davey). It was funky, outside the fashion system itself. But Pierre made something almost architectural. It is rare to see students work on cuts nowadays, you know, it is not about decoration, like a race for how many ribbons you manage to apply on the piece, but it is about the structure itself, which is actually very much what I am doing.” Pierre also interned and worked for Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh and Mugler.

Firstly, congratulation for your graduation and the awards that comes within! Let’s introduce you first. Tell us about you and the life at the academy
I’m a nobody from a very small city in france, i do not have any affiliation with fashion whatsoever except an unexplainable fascination for the female body. Right after high-school i decided to try the Antwerp Academy because it was public (tuition fees are reasonable) and the entrance-exam process made a lot of sense to me (for a few days the tutors get to know you, and you work on site on different things that will decide your potential acceptance).

What has been the biggest difficulty so far?
My biggest difficulty but also my biggest challenge at the Academy was definitely understanding the garments and techniques, since i have absolutely no technical background. The second most difficult thing was seeing some very talented students fail, and some very untalented students succeed cum laude. Making compromises about my creations was also a very big issue as an over-confident 18 years old.

Now tell us about your collection “Liquidation Totale”. I love the way it has an innovative sensibility.
My collection LIQUIDATION TOTALE is the conclusive act of a triptych i initiated in second year with my first collection MODE SANS ECHEC, followed by TOUT DOIT DISPARAITRE.
Those titles are both puns and nihilistic statements that, once translated, give FASHION WITHOUT FAIL, EVERYTHING MUST DISAPPEAR, and TOTAL LIQUIDATION.

Liquidation Totale is what is written on french shop windows right before their definitive closure, but i always saw it as a kind of threatening message: “hurry up before it’s too late.” or “we had enough” I use those titles to convey my boredom with fashion and my inherent desire for change.

After taking one year off between third and fourth year, that i used to gain momentum, inspiration, energy and real-life experience, the reality check was quite violent.

I worked as an intern at Mugler, and soon realised that the master collection i would produce in fourth year would probably be my last, at least the last one where i have complete creative control.
Starting from there i developped my atmosphere around a Business Woman at the summit, losing everything. This woman embodies this fake designer brand i invented for myself: “PR” (Pierre Renaux), shutting down, or failing.

This collection is very much about death and rebirth, reaching the top (the master year) and then falling down (going back next year to do photocopies and make coffees as an intern).
To translate this idea of derelicteness of my made-up brand, i thought interesting to design garments in the process of breaking, mutating around the body, shattering like glass, growing like micro organisms, in perpetual dynamism.

I’m utterly in love with the 3D printed shoe! It has a futuristic quality i think. Tell us more about it.
The 3D printed shoes are a declination of that concept, i wanted the heel to look like it mutated around the ankle, starting from a classic elegant formal working girl’s stiletto and making it spectacular and dynamic. I researched a lot around the idea of emptiness, since i wanted to work around a woman who felt nothing at all, that was at peace with the state of things self-destructing around her.

My researches led me to this disease called Ostheoporosis:the bones of aging women get less and less dense with time, and i found very poetic the idea that women get emptier and emptier with time.

This is why the design is between full and empty, with holes, in between a bone or a machine.
Also, i knew that impressive shoes would make my collection noticed.

You went with a lot of awards a few days ago and being selected to be in the exhibition in Brussels curated by Ann Demeulemeester along with 2 other graduates. How do you feel?
I feel happy that my collection struck a chord in other people’s sensitivity. I hope some other people might have been inspired by it. Im especially glad that Ann Demeulemeester noticed and saluted my extensive work on cut and the architectural aspect of my garments, which was really a challenge for me this year. I feel happy but i know that all of this is temporary.

Now that you have graduated, what’s next for you?what are you doing now and is there any current project you’re working on?
This summer i will produce a coherent and professionnal portfolio and start presenting it to whoever will be interested.

What do you think of fashion right now? I think the industry has become a lot more “instant” and more market-oriented. We see the departure of some great designers like Ghesquiere, Galliano, McQueen has a lot to do with that, Ghesquiere said it himself.
The fashion system is reaching a lightspeed breaking point and is about to collapse onto itself. I think that’s also inspiring.

3 people in fashion that inspires you the most?
I do not wish to name people in fashion that inspire me, i think my aesthetic and inspirations in term of femininity and violent sensuality are quite obvious already, and looking up to specific people in the same discipline as yours can be castrative and therefore sterile.

Finally, what would your biggest hope FOR and IN the fashion industry be?
My biggest hope in the fashion industry would be the total and complete forsakening of vintage.

A while back I went to Antwerp Fashion department (Royal Academy of Fine arts) Show 2012. The day was my Birthday. June 8th to be exact. And it will be a birthday that’ll never forget. I will write a full reveiw soon but in the mean time I will leave you with the work of Manon Kundig. Which was terrifying to watch for the record. 

Kaat Tilley autumn—winter 1995—96.

Kaat Tilley comes from Brussels, has roots in Mechelen, and studied at the Antwerp Fashion Academy. She has been designing since 1983 in a highly personal style. Behind every Kaat Tilley garment there’s a complete story, that of every woman. She seeks to express symbolically every stage in a woman’s life, with all its ups and downs.

In 1989 she opened her own boutique in the prestigious Koningsgalerij in Brussels. Her unusual wedding and party dresses, with the name Black Lines, were the great eye-catchers. Her hazy, fairy-tale silhouettes fired the imagination. The original and specific mood of this collection is repeated in her ready-to-wear ladies’ collection Inner & Earthings.

Kaat Tilley designs have few straight lines; everything is soft and fluid. Her personal, complicated pattern studies result in almost unreal, irregular yet structured shapes. The dresses and skirts are always long, and consist of layer upon layer of light, fine knits, which produce slender outlines. Piping, embroidery, smocking and little pieces of knitwear at the wrists, elbows, hips, waist, shoulder curves, back panels and hems accentuate the curves. They emphasise the feminine shape, whilst making for a slender figure. Not that her clothes are intended for slim women only. The different layers, the asymmetry, the ribbons and the turn-ups achieve different silhouettes.

The Escape line is cheaper in execution and material, made mainly from jersey. It is easy to combine with the Inner & Earthings line. Kaat Tilley has also been making Frederiek —  a collection for little girls — since 1994.

1997 was the first year in which she held a show during the Paris prêt-a-porter week.

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Antwerp Fashion Department SHOW2013 - Pierre Renaux: Liquidation Totale

Last June, i had the chance to interview an Antwerp Royal Academy Of Fine Art’s Fashion Department fresh graduate, Pierre Renaux. The reason why i chose to interview him among many other graduates is simple, none of other collections that day got what Pierre’s has. His collection isn’t about how over the top clothing you can make, or how crazy it could get, instead he gave an unusual cutting techniques, and surprisingly, some 3D printed shoes.

His collection ‘Liquidation Totale’ won him the Coccodrillo award for shoe design and the Antwerp ModeMuseum MoMu award placing his collection on display in the museum (shown until August 11th). As if it’s not enough, Pierre along with 2 other graduates has chosen by Ann Demeulemeester for her upcoming exhibition in Brussels. “I chose Pierre because it was a work clearly based on cuts,” commented Ann Demeulemeester on i-D magazine. “I also chose the work of Jezabelle (Cormio) and Jack (Davey). It was funky, outside the fashion system itself. But Pierre made something almost architectural. It is rare to see students work on cuts nowadays, you know, it is not about decoration, like a race for how many ribbons you manage to apply on the piece, but it is about the structure itself, which is actually very much what I am doing.” Pierre also interned and worked for Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh and Mugler.

See the rest of the interview here and Pierre’s MA full collection here

Unraveled...

I spent the weekend in Antwerp, Belgium…I know I always say this but I think it’s my new favorite city.  Antwerp is a quaint city, with only 400,000 people, and even though it was bombed by the German’s in WWII, but not severely, there are still a lot of buildings that are 300 years old or older and virtually untouched.

Although considered small, Antwerp is home to some big names in the fashion world like contemporary and avant garde designers Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester.  On Saturday I visited the MOMU for their exhibit on the history of knitwear appropriately called UNRAVEL.  The exhibit takes you from the beginnings of knitwear to the invention of the knitting machine to showcasing the designers that have put knitwear on the map like Sonia Rykiel and Maison Martin Margiela.

Here are just a few snapshots of my favorite pieces…

Above: 1920’s inspired knitwear, woolen trompe l'oeil sweater, Dirk Van Saene A/W 2008-09

Below: Sculptural Knitwear, Romain Brau, 2007

Left:  Inca woolen dress, Marithe+Fracois Girbaud, A/W 1987-88

Right: Trompe l'oeil jumper and dress, Sonia Rykiel, S/S 2008

Woolen dress in jersey, decorated with cables and trimmed in tubes wrapped in jersey, Alexander McQueen, A/W 2009-10

The museum also housed a gallery that showcased the work of some of the graduating students of the Royal Academy of Art in Antwerp.

Antwerp’s new city slogan should be.  We’re big where it counts…creatively speaking that is!