Dirk Bikkembergs graduated in 1982 from the fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. In 1985, his menswear collection won the Golden Spindle competition, and in 1986, he launched his DirkBikkembergs label with a shoe collection. In 1988, he collaborated with the Italian manufacturers, Gibo, and a year later presented his first complete menswear collection in Paris. In 1991, he established his own production facilities in Italy. His clothing designs originally included military elements and references to work apparel, but in around the year 2000, Bikkembergs gets intrigued by the sports world and the athlete becomes his muse. The term ‘Sport Couture’ was added to the Dirk Bikkembergs label, which was subsequently expanded to include the additional Bikkembergs line. In 2003, he became the first fashion designer to dress a top-ranking soccer team, Inter Milan, in official off-the-field custom-made suits. This close connection between fashion and sports would mark his signature style until he left the fashion world in 2011.
THE SHOE AS BENCHMARK
His ‘mountain boots for the city’, with laces through the heel, are among Dirk Bikkembergs’ most iconic shoe designs.
For Dirk Bikkembergs, shoes are a determinig factor in the look and feel of any outfit. His first men’s shoes were inspired by ceremonial military footwear. Solidly made leather shoes look robust, in direct contradiction to the classic Italian men’s shoes that dominated fashion in the mid-1980s.
FASHION AND FOOTBALL
In June 2001, he invited the international fashion world to his show in Milan’s San Siro football stadium, becoming the first fashion designer to unite the diametrically opposed worlds of football and fashion in the process. He merged comfortable, high-technology sports fabrics with the quality and finish of high fashion. His made-to-measure suits, which offer the comfort of a jogging outfit, enjoyed immediate success.
The new millennium brought a new chapter in my career. (…) At that time, the world of sports and the world of fashion were two different planets, with apparently nothing in common. My new mission was to create a bridge between these two worlds!
Author: Romy Cockx
Photo above: Eleven European footballers, photographed in the Karoo desert, South Africa, 10-17 June 2008 by Luc Willame