15 Jul 2020

Editorial: Meet The Antwerp Fashion Department’s Class of 2020

The Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp is infamous for the excellent designers it sends out into the world after completing the four-year-long Master course. The academy’s annual graduation show, and especially the part where the Master students present their collections, is something many fashion industry insiders look forward to. Due to the mess that is the coronavirus, this year’s graduation show looked a little different.

The 9 master students — also laughingly called the COVID-9 by a meme page curated by fashion students, referring to the Antwerp Six — presented their master collections on a specially created virtual platform WWWSHOWWW on June 27.

We teamed up with photographer Merel Hart and videographer Rutger Claes to showcase all nine of the master collections in an editorial and special video that you can find on our Instagram. Start scrolling and read more about the nine Master students that graduated this year at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp.

Julia Ballardt full look.

Julia Ballardt – CATCH THE SILVER I FLING – Germany

Julia Ballardt based her Catch the Silver I Fling collection on a series of personal analog photographs that she gathered over the past years. She wanted to explore the ways of making those visual mementos wearable. With elements from both classical garments and ‘70s punk, the collection could be described as poetic punk.

Isabelle Lempik full look.

LEFT: Karolina Widecka trousers, top and cropped blazer. Vetements boots. RIGHT: Isabelle Lempik full look.

Isabelle Lempik – POWER TO CHANGE – Germany/Korea

The collection Power to Change was created by Isabelle Lempik and was influenced by her parents’ marriage. Lempik’s mother is of Korean origin and her father has a German background. The integrated golden rings in the garments symbolize her family’s bond and unity. All the garments are multifunctional so that you can have a fully functional wardrobe with fewer pieces. According to Lempik, a garment with more than one purpose will bring bigger and longer joy.

Nico Verhaegen jacket.

Nico Verhaegen – STYX – Belgium

Nico Verhaegen created STYX, a collection that talks about a journey or pilgrimage to the north while on a bike. It features various elements of sportswear and shamanistic garments, which are formed out of scraps, found objects, and dead-stock materials. Fans of Rick Owens will surely be able to appreciate Verhaegen’s work.

Nico Verhaegen jacket. Levi's jeans. Ann Demeulemeester boots.

Nico Verhaegen sweater.

Annemarie Saric – LUXUS FÜR ALLE – Austria

Annemarie Saric drew inspiration from random terms and sentences for her Luxus Für Alle collection. She found these terms and sentences online, in fashion magazines, and in artworks. Their content and graphical representation deeply interested Saric. She also looked into the streamlined, aerodynamic, and stylistic design language of concept cars. These would also act as an inspiration for her highly sculptural Komono sunglasses design, formed by a cut-out and collage technique of vintage car parts.

LEFT: Annemarie Saric full look. RIGHT: Sabrina Pfattner full look.

Sabrina Pfattner  – BOWS & POWS – Italy

Sabrina Pfattner’s collection Bows & Pows evolves around strong women. Her research started out with The Cholitas, Bolivian women who wrestle in their traditional ethnical costumes. Dozens of layers of crochet and lace skirts twirl through the air as they move. Captured by the pictures, Pfattner got more into masculine sports practiced by women. She wanted to put the tension between strength and elegance into the garments themselves.

Marie Martens dress. Julia Ballardt heels.

Marie Martens dress. Julia Ballardt heels.

Marie Martens – SWANS – Belgium

The starting point for Marie MartensSwans was Truman Capote, an American writer most famous for his novel Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The ’60s legend surrounded himself with loads of glamorous women, whom he called Swans. Lee Radziwill was one of these Swans, known as the more fashionable sister of Jackie O. Jackie’s niece and aunt were Little Edie and Big Edie Beale, known from the documentary Grey Gardens. They were an eccentric duo that lived in a decaying house in The Hamptons surrounded by cats. Martens wanted to translate their glamour and eccentricity into silhouettes covered in sequins, hand-embroidered matelassé, and knitwear.

Florentina Leitner full look.

Florentina Leitner body suit. Florentina Leitner x Komono sunglasses.

Florentina Leitner – MIDNIGHT VERTIGO – Austria

The sixth Master student Florentina Leitner created Midnight Vertigo, a collection inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, Louise Bourgeois, and the feeling of vertigo. She says the collection is about dreaming and spiraling down into a garden of geometry and mysterious flowers.

Leitner also created a pair of Komono sunglasses. She used psychedelic art to create a pair of glasses that have been stretched and liquified to a vertigo or spiraling effect.

Florentina Leitner full look.

Silvia Rognoni dress. Annemarie Saric heels.

Silvia Rognoni – MARIA – Italy

Maria is a collection created by Master student Silvia Rognoni. Rognoni imagines a woman who is partially inspired by the protagonist of The Marriage of Maria Braun by Rainer Fassbinder. Or more precisely by any character with a strong external shell, but who actually hides a secret fragility inside.

The woman tries to fix what has been broken, picking up garments and putting them back together with the few means she is left with. She patches pillowcases and bedsheets she finds in the house and gathers oversized blazers around her waist with huge safety pins to make them more feminine. She must find the strength to move on and reinvent herself with creativity and poetry.

For the rose motifs, Rognoni was inspired by the flowers by Cy Twombly. The roses are the woman’s secret garden in opposition to the cold steel she shows the outside world.

LEFT: Karolina Widecka skirt and top. Annemarie Saric heels. Annemarie Saric x Komono sunglasses. RIGHT: Julia Ballardt coat. Vetements boots.

Karolina Widecka skirt and top. Annemarie Saric x Komono sunglasses.

Karolina Widecka – WHERE IS THE CURVE? – Ukraine

Karolina Widecka’s Where Is the Curve? collection revolves around topics like superstition, conspiracy theories, and pseudo-spirituality. Central elements in the collection are the prints (for example, the dollar bills), which have red underlines of various subliminal messages or prints of declassified top-secret documents. The concept of reveal and deception really comes forward with see-through mesh and opaque tailoring fabrics, which are symbols for “uncovering the truth”. Fans of Balenciaga, Vetements, or Marine Serre will definitely love Widecka too.

Together with Belgian eyewear company Komono, Widecka created a pair of sunglasses inspired by ex-votos (an object left as an offering in fulfillment of a vow) and Mexican religious art.

Karolina Widecka skirt and top. Annemarie Saric heels. Annemarie Saric x Komono sunglasses.


Photography by Merel Hart
Creative direction, production and styling by Enfnts Terribles Studios
Makeup and hair by Sabine Peeters
Styling and production assistant: Lisa Wynen
Models: Marthe (IMM Brussels), Josepha (Unit Model Management), Lukas (Hakim Model Management)
Short biographies by Janne Schellingen and Femke Lippens

Special thanks to Kavka for the location and Julia Ballardt, Karolina Widecka, Isabelle Lempik, Marie Martens, Annemarie Saric, Florentina Leitner, Sabrina Pfattner, Nico Verhaegen, and Silvia Rognoni for the trust.

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