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Pride & Fashion: How Fashion Students Are Challenging the Norms

If Pride is about anything, it is about challenging norms and opening up boundaries. In honour of this year’s Antwerp Pride, we sat down with two bachelor students of the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp who are doing just that. Malene Ahlert and Ezio Costa each offer a strikingly different, but equally ground-breaking vision on fashion and gender.

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    Malene Ahlert
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    Malene Ahlert
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    Malene Ahlert
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    Malene Ahlert
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    Malene Ahlert
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    Malene Ahlert
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    Malene Ahlert
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    Malene Ahlert

Malene wants her garments to be welcoming to literally any type of body, regardless of size or gender. Her work is highly critical of body normativity in the fashion world where tall thin bodies are still the norm. Despite increasing attention for body diversity, other body types remain a curiosity. Because making inclusive fashion design is not an easy feat, Malene’s design process is necessarily one of continuous experimentation.

I look for constructions that are universal enough to dress any body type.

Malene Ahlert, 3rd Bachelor student at Antwerp Fashion Department
Malene Ahlert
Malene Ahlert

The fact that Malene streetcasts her models underlines her deep commitment to making fashion that can genuinely dress everybody.

In a similar vein, working to dissolve the boundaries of masculinity, Ezio is on a quest to open up what it means to inhabit a male body in our society. Ezio looks for ways to include elements in his work that are traditionally considered off-limits for men’s fashion.

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    Ezio Costa
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    Ezio Costa
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    Ezio Costa
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    Ezio Costa
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    Ezio Costa
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    Ezio Costa
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    Ezio Costa
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    Ezio Costa
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    Ezio Costa

For my final bachelor’s collection, I delved deeper into masculinity itself, exploring different shades of masculine.

Ezio Costa, 3rd Bachelor student at Antwerp Fashion Department

His collection book reads as an exploration of manhood: from the hyper muscular nearly animalistic man to the thin hairless almost childlike man.

Ezio Costa
Ezio Costa

Both Ezio and Malene illustrate that something so intimate and yet so public as fashion is a critical playing field for pushing the limits on what it means to live in any kind of body in this world. An endeavour that underscores what Pride is all about.

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