The story behind the images of the Fashion 2.021 campaign
As from 4 and 5 September 2021, MoMu's ambitious reopening programme, ‘Fashion 2.021’, will put Antwerp back on the map as a fashion city in a variety of ways.
First up: with a visual campaign launched, covering the concept of ‘Fashion/Conscious’, the role of the modern designer is revisited, and reveals how very different our fashion experiences are today. The campaign consists of a series of highly emotive fashion images, which aim to trigger essential social dialogue in our modern world. This visual campaign was created in collaboration with six top designers, ranging from established names such as Walter Van Beirendonck and Raf Simons, to young favourites, Glenn Martens, BOTTER, Marine Serre and Supriya Lele. MoMu reveals the three thematic layers behind ‘Fashion/Conscious’ – new insights from fashion consumers into sustainability and fashion as an industry in evolution, the lifestyle meaning behind being ‘fashion conscious’ and a confirmation of Antwerp's important role as a fashion city. The reopening of the MoMu is a time to celebrate, but it’s also a moment of introspection. The city must reflect critically on its position.
Antwerp fashion has, since the Antwerp Six, grown to a generation of designers and creatives that is spread throughout the world. I love that our graduates are proud to have studied here, they cherish it and take importance in this Antwerp ‘label’.
I have never had the opportunity sadly to visit Antwerp yet, however the influence the city and its creatives has had over my practice is vast. The lo-fi, subcultural and groundbreaking work that has come out of Antwerp is unparalleled and has influenced not only myself but generations of emerging designers.
The international creative team behind the visual ‘Fashion/Conscious’ campaign comprises international and local talent from fashion and photography. Creative director Isabella Burley (former Editor in Chief of Dazed & Confused), photographer Hanna Moon (Arena Homme+, British Vogue, Stüssy, Supreme, etc.) and stylist Agata Belcen (Senior Fashion Editor at Large of AnOther Magazine) teamed up with Belgian make-up visionary Inge Grognard.
Isabella Burley summarises the creative process: “We really wanted to celebrate the power of human touch – which is such an integral part of fashion, but has been lost in the throes of the pandemic. I was drawn to the thematics being explored in the ‘E/MOTION’ exhibition – including the idea of fashion/conscious and the role of designers today. So each image is dedicated to them and their world.”
SIX HEAVY HITTERS
The image of the celebrated alumnus from the Antwerp Fashion department Rushemy Botter (Co-Creative Director of BOTTER and Nina Ricci), refers to the powerful work created by Botter, together with his partner Lisi Herrebrugh. For the BOTTER Spring-Summer ’21 collection, called ‘Manifesto’, the designer refers explicitly to the global Black Lives Matter anti-racism movement, the climate crisis, the need for community to resist violence, racism and a lack of empathy and the ability of designers, as dreamers, to bring their opinions to life with art.
Fashion has always been a reflection of the time we are living in. We think it’s old school to only make garments without a purpose or a clear idea of the future. Fashion conscious is being aware of what is happening in society, not only in fashion.
It's an outfit from Y/Project that 'does the talking' on the image of international whirlwind Glenn Martens (Creative Director Y/Project and DIESEL, winner of several ANDAM fashion awards and alumnus from the Antwerp Fashion department).
Isabella Burley: “We were all really excited about Polina Boyko, a student from Central Saint Martins, when she arrived for the casting. We really felt that she embodied the spirit of Glenn Martens’ world and Y/Project. On the week of the photoshoot, she had dyed her hair red, which works well with the sculptural chains within the collection.”
Fashion consciousness is being aware that as a designer you have a responsibility towards your audience, not only to engage them in the conversation, but also to pass on the values you stand for.
In their efforts to bring to life the world of Walter Van Beirendonck, as a member of the ‘Antwerp Six’, Director of the Fashion department at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and fashion revolutionary, the creative team chose to cast a number of ‘club kids’ and students from Central Saint Martins: “We had all of the fashion students moshing on set, including Ella Marsch, who is Walter's former apprentice and a talented fashion designer in her own right,” says Isabella Burley.
I hope the moment for dressing-up will come back quickly. You feel that people are really waiting for this, and now, more than ever, they will make a statement out of it.
The intimate visual by designer Raf Simons (since April 2020 also Co-Creative Director at Prada) shows a young couple kissing. Photographer Jessica is studying at Central Saint Martins in London, and her partner Jonah studies Visual Arts at The Slade School of Fine Art. According to Burley, the image is a symbolic and emotional reference to the future.
I interpret fashion/conscious on a more personal level. Fashion, the way you dress, is something that underlines your personality, a way to express yourself. When you’re young – or maybe this can happen at any stage in life – experimenting with the way you dress can support your journey towards finding yourself, your individuality. I’ve always been inspired by these acts of self exploration. Of defining yourself, becoming more conscious of who you are and what makes you unique.
Supriya Lele, the break-out British-Indian designer from London who won a LVMH award in 2020, is the only one of the six designers to be caught on camera. Supriya Lele specifically chose her three greatest muses to be her models: hair stylist Cyndia Harvey, artist and writer Rhea Dillon and friend Jasmine Gaziza Müller. They join the designer in a group that embodies inspiration and community.
In 2021 I think there is much more of an open global dialogue within fashion; and with the global nature of influence designers are creating much more personal story based products, developing their visions from a meaningful standpoint and changing the system.
The philosophy of La Cambre alumnus Marine Serre, who stands out during Paris Fashion Week for her eco-futuristic designs, transpires into an intimate family portrait featuring a mother, two daughters and their dog. Like the intergenerational casting shown throughout her work, this image both to her unique family bond and sustainability. As a leading voice within her own generation of designers, Serre uses every opportunity to encourage vital conversations around the fast-paced nature of the fashion industry as well as recycling and upcycling.
It is about a new temporality in fashion. We shouldn’t consider fashion only as a garment, but as a process, an engagement, a way to act, a way to live. Trying to be conscious is about understanding that humankind is not at the center of the world, that we are part of a bigger picture – when you start to see things under this optic, you start to care more about the others, the environment, the nature that surrounds us and that’s part of us; consequently, you care more about what you buy and what you eat... We produce with the consciousness that we are creating a potential waste, so it becomes a mindset with its constraints to produce in a certain way to have less impact on the environment, mutating this approach into a mode de vie. The new luxury is about this art of living, embedding ways of consuming and acting.
Make-up artist Inge Grognard chose ‘melting’ flowers as interventions in a selection of the campaign visuals, thereby referring to life and all the transitions we face as humans. Using water and dye, Grognard blurs the line between make-up and nature, and speaks about her inspiration:
I was inspired by the upheavals and changes that we all face. I played with the image in my mind of a person holding a flower and standing in front of a tank, and thus making a peaceful protest for change (in a “quieter” and more poetic way).