Antwerp might be a rather small unknown city in a country that’s mostly famous for its chocolate, beer, waffles and terrorist attacks. (Yes, we’re talking about Belgium.) But everyone who knows just a tiny bit about fashion, is aware of the fact that its Academy is one of the best in the world. Number 3 to be exact (according to Business of Fashion). We just need to drop a few names and no further explanation will be necessary. Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Martin Margiela, Raf Simons and Demna Gvasalia.

Every year, new talents are graduating. And SHOW 2017 was an extremely fertile edition. No less than 18 masters presented their final collection during the runway show last weekend. You’d think they impossibly could all be that good. But they are… Since a complete review would turn into a never ending article, we picked the ones we personally loved most. But you can find a complete list on the website of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.  

Woojic Jo

Bean’s Tailoring was inspired by the idea of Mr. Bean starting a tailor shop. From there on Woojic Jo took it upon him to design a suit collection filled with humor.

I thought it would be great to make fun things. So I just started the process and I set the focus on the integration of Mr. Bean’s movies in men’s tailoring” – Woojic Jo.

Lukas Spilka – MARS

A women’s collection designed for three female heroes riding on a motorcycle to Mars. Lukas Spilka took a Sci-Fi direction to end his time at the Academy in style. The models looked like classic and modern warriors at the same time. Their giant black shades tell us they didn’t just return home after defending the ancient Greek empire. No doubt that the Martians will be full of admiration when these modern goddesses arrive.

Show 2017 Antwerpen Lukas SpilkaShow 2017 Antwerpen Lukas Spilka

Robbie Van Mierlo – Epos of the Ego

Robbie Van Mierlo’s collection was one of our personal favorites. For him, this was a story that illustrated his life in a sort of fantastic, illusionary way. Van Mierlo wanted to create a kind of ‘homo universalis’, a being that’s a philosopher, a poet, an artist, a designer, a dancer, an actor. We particularly loved this collection because of its bold colors and interesting silhouettes. Now that was a breath of fresh air!

We don’t know whether there was something wrong with a model who didn’t show up or not, but the designer decided to close his own graduation show. Which we think was pretty epic.

Rushemy Botter – Fish or Fight

Rushemy’s last body of work for the Academy is called ‘Fish or Fight’. In his collection, he refers to the struggling Caribbean youth setting foot on European soil. A young generation that covers up their insecurities with nice luxury clothes and the plushiest style techniques. But again also referring to the fishing industry, known to be the main commerce in the Carribean. For his dazzling performance, Rushemy received 5 awards, including the Dries Van Noten and Ann De Meulemeester award.

I’m going to build up my brand with my partner and business partner Lisi Herrebrugh. We already have all kinds of interests from international buyers, so we’ll see how that turns out. It’s time to move on to something new” – Rushemy Botter.

Sofie Nieuwborg – Mastering

This one is a collection we’ve been looking forward to. We worked with Sofie Nieuwborg for one of our previous editorials, so we already knew we could expect something big. And she fulfilled our brightest dreams with her master collection. Sofie Nieuwborg’s collection was literally called “Mastering” and is a reflection on the act of graduation. Time is a really important thing in the collection as the designer tried to focus on things that change and things that stay the same. There’s a mix of sportswear and activewear with very fragile dried flowers and a modern day equivalent of Victorian blouses.

We had the chance to have a little talk with Sofie Nieuwborg after the show. She told us the future always looks bright and she’s planning on reflecting on herself first, before making any big decisions about the future. We wish her the best of luck!

Marta Twarowska – HYPERREAL

Marta Twarowska went through her own memories to get inspired for her master collection. While growing up as a child in post-communist Poland, they had nothing. When something finally got delivered in store, they just started to hoard supplies. So it happened families ended up with 12 irons instead of just one. Because of the scarcity of goods, everyone owned the same things which created the feeling of a hyperreality.

What triggered us immediately while watching her collection were the models wearing more or less identical masks. Masks that look like those kitschy glass bowls your grandma used to have. Most of the looks had both a nostalgic and modernistic touch. Contemporary vs Poland anno 1990. We better keep an eye on the Eastern European creatives because they’re about to climb the fashion charts.

Show 2017 Antwerpen Marta TwarowskaShow 2017 Antwerpen Marta Twarowska

Yuki Hashimoto – Bad Day Camp

Finally graduated, Yuki can now look for new opportunities. He had a really nice experience at the academy but it’s time to spread his wings now. However, he wasn’t this calm at the start of his master challenge. When he finished his last drawings of epic graves and boy scouts who go camping, that’s the moment his ongoing adventure truly began. For a big part Canadian painter, Erin Armstrong influenced his work. From artist to artist, adding dark and chaotic elements to each garment was Yuki’s tribute to Erin.

Photo credits: Emmanuel De Prycker, Etienne Tordoir, Elien Janssen (featured image)