Belgian sobriety captures fashion world
Belgian fashion designer Christian Wijnants 35 obtained high praise and a cash prize when he won the International Woolmark Prize at the London Fashion Week last Saturday. A few days earlier another Belgian designer, the 37-year-old Tim Coppens, was lauded by the international press for his catwalk debut at the New York Fashion Week. Top designer Diane von Furstenberg’s called Belgium a small and boring country, which is why the country produces so many creative talents, she added. “That’s true, the Belgians still leave their mark on the fashion world,” commented Agnes Wene of the Flanders Fashion Institute. Of the hundred shows planned for the Paris Fashion Week, thirteen come from Belgian designers who, according to Karen Van Godtsenhoven of the ModeMuseum in Antwerp, shine with their realistic take that reflects the current economic climate and a return to more sober, timeless clothes. “You can see it in the designs of the Belgian Raf Simons, who now works for Dior,” she adds. Not only in their desigh have Coppens and Wijnants opted for realism, their business approach to the fashion world is also drenched in it. Wijnants, who started as creative assistant for Dries Van Noten, has relied on a business manager to look after the financial side of his business for a number of years. Meanwhile he is free to focus on creative design and participate in competitions. He won for instance also the the Yves St Laurent Award in 2006. Coppens was equally reluctant to take too much risk and only showed his collection in New York when he was 37. This move paid off handsomely as the fashion emporium Barney’s immediately purchased his line. “When the foreign press and buyers have praise for a number of Belgians it often impacts positively on other Belgian designers,” concludes Agnes Wene.