“I will always be me,” Belgian fashion designer Julie Kegels told 1 Granary. Ever since primary school, she dreamt of joining the fashion department at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp – the city where she was born and raised. The stars aligned, and we’ve got an exciting, emerging fashion designer coming from the famously off-beat, “fifth” fashion capital. Her unconventional approach towards silhouettes, and ability to fuse the media of fashion and art, are distinct in her first, proper collection. The main inspiration from Kegels’s Masters Collection is “The Dinner Party“, the installation by Judy Chicago from 1979, in which the feminist artist set a gigantic, triangular table for 39 women from across history. Each place setting was dedicated to a mythical or world-famous woman that played an essential role in the history of female rights. For every woman, she designed a custom place setting inspired by the story of their life. For her collection, Kegels focused on the twelve of these settings. You can wear each of the silhouettes, but you can lay them on a table for decoration purposes as well. The whole concept was an excellent opportunity to experiment with textiles. “I tried to push the boundaries and create fabrics with a soul like embroidery, hand knits, playful drapes and materials with structure. I vacuumed old lace with a plastic fabric as this created depth in the shape of laceflowers. By creating new fabrics, I discovered that making an old fabric look modern is what I genuinely loved doing during the process of this collection“. The designer continues: “Dressing up for a dinner party has always been a magical experience for me. My line-up is based on a picture of a woman standing in front of the mirror holding a dress. Therefore, every piece in my collection has a different front and back. With these primary elements in mind, I developed the concept.” The final effect is both futuristic and retro; familiar, yet totally unknown. The look-book, photographed by Anton Fayle and art directed by Studio M, transports you to the unique world of Kegels, where nothing is as it seems. Keep Kegels’ work on your radar – and don’t forget to check out her Instagram!
“We were in, I think, the fifth lockdown here in Antwerp when we started on this collection. And when I talked with my team to discuss what it would be about, it was really about outbursts: We’ve had it, and now we want to have fun, we want to party, we want to enjoy things, we want to go into the city and we want to see people.” So said Dries Van Noten, laying out his manifesto for a sensually hedonistic season while simultaneously echoing the Peter Fonda–sampled intro to Primal Scream’s “Loaded”, the soundtrack to the line-up’s excellent collection video: “We want to be free to do what we want to do!… And we want to get loaded! And we want to have a good time! And that’s what we’re gonna do!” Without inquiring as to whether Van Noten and his team got loaded, they clearly had a blast putting together this lovingly local, energy rush of a collection. That team made a shared folder of smartphone photos taken around the city, from industrially scenic crane landscapes to strobe-lit club shots via moody pool hall milieus, which were integrated as prints on paneled parkas and silky shirts. These images were then accented against a ’70s vintage Antwerp municipal logo and etchings taken (with permission) from two of Flanders’s most famous sons, Breughel and Rubens. The collaged images on the garments were shot against a backdrop of more city locales, to 56 of which Dries and his team dragged a white podium to make the look book. Of them all, the pink-tabarded school trip in look six proved ultimate evidence that these were not scenes just lazily projected in post. Van Noten said his attitude to this collection was: “What is menswear? What is womenswear? Just throw it all together and take what you like.” Conventional dichotomies were rendered attractively void in “womenswear” looks featuring tailored, overlong, and overdyed pants in English mohair over slides, and an awesome “menswear” camo parka and suit in 35 gram silk plongée lined in cotton voile. Geographically specific to Antwerp, but tolerantly nonspecific in terms of the geography of received gender norms, this was a collection that did indeed look great to get loaded in.
I’ve discovered Veronique Vermussche‘s label Tuinchlast season and I tell you, this is love at first sight! Each season, Vermussche travels from Belgium, where she lives, to the mountains of Kashmir and Tibet on to procure world-class cashmere from local artisans she’s built long-standing relationships with. For spring-summer 2020, meet some of the most luxurious knitwear goods you’ve ever seen. The collection brings hand-knitted skirts and dresses to the line-up of timeless sweaters that will serve you for years to come. The open-weave wrap-knit sarong skirt, complete with leather detailing, is the collection’s biggest highlight, just as the tasseled cotton-wool cape. It’s a summer look-book, so no wonder why the designer tries mixing linen and silks with her ribbed cashmere knits and wool maxi dresses. The warm, earthy colour palette is eventually contrasted with pastel shades that pop up in the details. Artisan, top notch quality and seasonless: that’s sustainability, too.
Every so often a label appears out of nowhere that piques my interest. This happened with Tuinch, a brand I’ve discovered while browsing Moda Operandi’s trunkshows last season. I fell in love with it at the first sight – and you will, too. Founder Veronique Vermussche is a passionate knitter, spending much of her free time creating elaborate sweaters and other garments. She combines this passion with her other ones: fashion and travel. The story of Tuinch started quite by coincidence. Traveling home from a vacation in the Himalayas, Veronique’s flight got delayed and she found warmth and comfort wrapping herself in a cashmere scarf bought from a local artisan. This way Veronique fell in love with cashmere, the beloved material that feels likes silk, but warms like lamb wool. The idea grew to develop a cashmere-only knitwear line. Back home she started working on her first collection, autumn-winter 2016, and travelled back extensively to the Himalayas to understand all aspects of the Asian cashmere tradition and to source the finest wool and discover the best artisans. Tuinch’s collections combine an artistic vision with elegant silhouettes. They are truly innovative by revisiting cashmere in not so classic designs we often see in stores and from other brands. The Antwerp-based label is about to release two new capsule collections for autumn-winter season. One is more bold and playful, with an energetic colour palette and knitted, three-dimensional bees (!) stuck on the sleeves. The other capsule is equally artisan, but more suited for, let’s say, beautiful mountain trips or escapes to the country. Those earthy shades used in oversized cardigans, ponchos and turtlenecks look too good. Not speaking of all the timeless, tartan plaids… I tell you, keep Tuinch on your radar when colder days come. Here are the knits that will serve for years!
Well, Belgium might not be the first place you think of in terms of typically ‘summer’ holidays. But, to a surprise of many, it’s possible to lie for hours near the North Sea and get that vitamin D. And guess what – if you’re lucky with the weather, your tan will be as good as in Italy. So, where to spend a lazy, August day? Definitely in Knokke, which is often referred to as Belgium’s top resort spot. But no worries, there are no crowds of tourists and no madness going on down the beach. Just plenty of lovely beach clubs, pattiseries with Belgian chocolates and very, very chic boutiques that are worth visiting after you’ve read your book, swam in the shockingly warm sea and finally charged your batteries.
La Vie En Rose
This is a small store located just a few feet from the ‘main’ street of Knokke. A refined selection of Marni, Chloé and Dries Van Noten, combined with the rather artisanal, niche labels like Sofie D’Hoore and Tak Ori. It’s hard to call La Vie En Rose a ‘multibrand’, because of its… coziness.
The two-floor store surprises with labels that you don’t really expect to see in resort towns like Knokke. Maryam Nazzir Zadeh? Checked. Ganni? Checked. Stand? Checked.
Geoffroy Van Hulle
The first thought when you enter this breathing treasure chest? GORGEOUS. Antique statues; tribal masks from Africa; museum taxidermy; vintage coffee-table books. The list of (very, very pricey) paraphernalia available at Van Hulle’s boutiques is endless. You can’t leave this place without a La Mamounia scent, a perfume brand coming straight from Morocco.
A few more addresses from Knokke are added to the newly updated ‘Places‘ page. Click, click!