Donor in the spotlight: Stan Schoonbaert
In addition to the fashion and costume collection, MoMu also houses a rich library collection. Archives on Belgian fashion are actively collected and we regularly receive donations. In the spotlight today: Stan Schoonbaert's personal Bartsons collection.
Bartsons was actually the Burberry of Belgium. Nearly all of the Antwerp Six worked for us.
You have donated quite a few items to MoMu, where do these come from?
They are different pieces from Bartsons' archives, collected during the time my wife and I worked there. When we stopped working for the company in the early 1990s, we decided to donate several pieces to MoMu. These items defined Bartsons look, (trench) coats, photo books, billboards, vignettes, even documents such as a staff list from the early 1960s. One particular object I kept for myself: a figurine of a penguin, Bartsons' famous mascot. We also have pieces at home from my time at Oilily and from the last 10 years at Dries Van Noten. My time there was a beautiful ending to 42 years of being in the business.
What makes these pieces so interesting for the museum?
The coats have been added to the museum collection and the archival records will end up in the library. This way, these items can continue to exist; it would be a shame if they were lost. The great Belgian fashion companies of the past have sadly disappeared, it is important to keep that heritage alive. Bartsons was actually the Burberry of Belgium. My father had a good understanding of the future. In the late 1950s, he moved the company from Antwerp to Heist-op-den-Berg because there was hardly any staff or space in the city. In the mid-1960s, he realized that it would become increasingly difficult to make ready-to-wear in Belgium, so he set up a company in Spain. In the early 1970s, when he saw that there was no longer a market for Bartsons there either, he sent me to Poland to develop the business. We had to phase out production in Belgium because there were no more skilled workers to be found. However, the commercial, financial and creative side always remained here.
The designers at Bartsons were also notable figures ...
Jo Wyckmans powered the creative department for many years. Linda Loppa also worked there, as did the Antwerp Six and Martin Margiela. They contributed to the development of the collections. We made a lot of jackets in leather, fur, Alcantara, Gore-Tex, ... It is in the midst of those jackets that my life passed by. I'm surprised to see how many of those vintage coats are sold online today. I myself occasionally wear pieces from 30 years ago, they are still fine. Too bad the brand went defunct anyway. Around 1992, the company was acquired by Scapa. They resold it not long after.