DRESS CODE, an exhibition about Belgian fashion, curated by Charles Kaisin with assistance of Linda Van Waesberge, and in cooperation with Hong Kong Design Insitute.
Explore dress codes such as CASUAL, UNIFORM and BLACK TIE through Belgian fashion with 100 fascinating silhouettes by more than 50 fashion designers, DRESS CODE exhibits work from Belgian’s established and emerging talent designers as well as work from our most renowned fashion academies.
Some quotes on Belgian fashion and DRESS CODE:
The origin of clothing is functional. We dress ourselves to protect our bodies against the elements. Each season calls for different fabrics. From the creation of a piece of clothing, we want to differentiate ourselves by the choice of shape, the fabric, the colour and the manner in which we wear it. Fashion evolves with the seasons. Thanks to or despite of the media, we are influenced by this continuous renewal. The seasons are expanding: spring/summer and autumn/winter are now joined by resort collections, pre-collections, capsule collections, and guest collections...
For each and every one of us, fashion is a way to stand out. While previously clothing was a manner to determine social status, today the wearing of a ‘name’ has become a reference point, an expression of culture or cult. Brand cults have created a universe in which the simple fact of buying or wearing a particular brand brings the feeling of belonging to a group. There remains one last category where clothing confirms identity to meet personal expectations: made-to-measure, the unique piece.
As a child you learn the emotional value
of a piece of clothing: the scarf my grandmother knitted, emotion and added
value through the realization
of the making process.
(Charles Kaisin, curator of Dress Code)
Belgian fashion doesn’t exist.
Belgium is a small, complex country, but Belgian fashion is large and generous. You find the poetic aesthetics of Dries van Noten alongside the fragile toughness of Ann Demeulemeester. The colourful exuberance of Walter van Beirendonck alongside the sharp tailoring of Raf Simons. The flowing draperies of Jean-Paul Knott alongside the crazy creations of Jean-Paul Lespagnard. You find the arty passion of A.F. Vandevorst beside the conceptual witticisms of Martin Margiela. The beautiful knits of Christian Wijnants alongside the ephemeral, girl-like silhouettes of Veronique Branquinho.
And even now, we’re only at ten. Because Annemie Verbeke, Sofie D’Hoore and Elvis Pompilio... also make Belgian fashion. What binds these designers is a strong signature that makes their pieces timeless.
I’m going to reveal a secret: Belgian fashion doesn’t exist. Because fashion is temporal and transitory. What our designers make is wearable art, which over the years and seasons will never ‘go out of fashion’.
Call it slow fashion to be savoured in small mouthfuls, which is appreciated by an ever-growing group of like-minded fans around the world. Be warned: once you go Belgian, you never go back.
(Nica Broucke, Elle België)
The Belgian uniform or fashion that never goes out of fashion
as in a perseverant style
as in an iconic design, a must-have
« What comes to mind when you think of ‘Belgian fashion’? What would the uniform of the ideal Belgian fashionista be? And above all, what’s it all about? Belgium is a small country with a surprisingly high number of designers. How does one then explain the mark that ‘the Belgians’ leave on trendy people and their wardrobes? Undoubtedly, it has something to do with the quality of their training. Stepping out of the Antwerp Academy, the hyper minimalist, black and white silhouettes of Ann Demeulemester are in some way the emblem of the Belgian style; perfect knowledge of the masculine cut, combined with the fluidity of almost medieval lines... One could say it’s all about a kind of architecture that Ann Demeulemester shares with another member of the famous ‘Antwerp Six’, who interprets it in another totally personal way, full of colours and prints. It also has something to do with travelling and contemporary art, all combined in the most elegant way. Both these Antwerpians have strong personalities; they never compromise their personal touch, making fashion that will last. A fashion immediately recognizable, season after season. The fashion blogger Diane Pernet sums it up: “Belgian designers have a fashion concept, and they are easy to wear”. A phrase that also applies to Jean-Paul Knott. For the last 20 years, this former assistant of YSL, has worked fervently on simple forms, which he folds up again and again to create clothes that are often transformable. And yes, of course he knows how to tailor a jacket or an impeccable white shirt. But his talent finds freedom of expression in fabrics that envelop the body as if by magic. The Belgians have a hell of a character! Do they do it on purpose?
Their creations are meant to last. We can wear a super classic woman’s suit by the fashion house Natan time after time. Of course you may need to match it with the right coloured blouse depending on the season, but that’s actually all you need to do. The cut, the fabric and the finishing are remi- niscent of the solidity of this small kingdom, the borders of which, sewn in white thread, stand out a mile. And if anything lasts long enough, it is surely the jewellery by Christa Reniers. Her rings have been copied countless times, even by the greatest names in her field. Bracelets that will loyally follow you for years, wrapping you up with their precious metal as soft as moulded wax. The same goes for the iconic scarfs of Olivier Strelli, which are coming back to life from the 1980s when they were first conceived. Sparkling colours, rich motifs, the brand’s DNA is re-emerging today thanks to the fortunate initiative of the designer’s son. More or less at the same time, a very talented fashion designer updates the wearing of the hat. His name is Elvis Pompilio, and his creative fantasy and fashion culture are immense. One of his first creations, the one-piece cap made of rabbit-skin felt, has now become his signature piece. This iconic item is conquering the web and China in 2013. Equally iconic, the famous fine leather house Delvaux and its star model, le Brillant, are something of a national treasure. Sometimes called the ‘Bel- gian Hermès’, Delvaux is the oldest luxury leather house in Europe. The bags are still handcrafted in its workshops. The elegant Belgian woman possesses at least one of these bags, either a new one or one inherited from her mother or even her grandmother. And that’s normal: the quality of the leather and the unique knowhow of the brand guarantee a long life for these items, themselves timeless. So here you have the keys to enter a Belgian fashionista’s world: fashion designed by strong characters and made to last; an incredibly up-to-date fashion, at a time when modernity rhymes with timelessness. To paraphrase Gabrielle Chanel, Belgian fashion is something that never goes out of fashion.
(Béa Ercolini, Elle Belgique)
The evening is beautiful, classic eveningwear is far away. Wonderful creations by, say, Tim Van Steenbergen brought into the Scala in Milan, long dresses in copper and gold by A.F. Vandevorst, dreamy colours and fragrances by Dries Van Noten, modernity and elegance of the many great talents Belgium is so rich in. A range of high quality clothing collections, luxury accessories, the mystery of timeless fashion.
The meaning of the accessory is by definition at the opposite end of the principal, the essential. We may consider an accessory as something superfluous, nonetheless it is not less important; it may even be indispensable!
Indeed much like clothes, fashion accessories serve both a practical and symbolic function. A bag, a piece of jewellery... are objects that reflect social status and conventions, a certain life style, a specific culture, tradition, innovation, and, generally speaking, a vision of life and what goes on in it.
Due to its history, Belgium is made up of various cultures that have had to accept each other, live together, evolve and mingle. It is a country that gave birth to surrealism and great artists.
These Belgian artists are the country’s ambassadors. Born in Belgium or elsewhere, their inspiration is multiple and often varies. The materials and techniques differ, yet all these artists share a special knowhow, a common craftsmanship and a pursuit of excellence.
Often in limited editions, these pieces bear the hallmarks of their creators. Whether conceived for and fabricated with precious or recycled materials, they are all exceptional and unique. Improbable or unbelievable, functional or poetic, these creations do more than accentuate an outfit. They are the concretization of an idea, made possible thanks to high quality work, be it leather, embroidery, gold, silver or metal... To be worn with pride,
as a manifesto, to be cherished as a precious moment, these creations are proof of talent and ingenuity. Either for every day use or for very special occasions, they are the only truly indispensable luxury.
(Vincent Massey for Collectors Gallery www.collectors-gallery.com
Dress Code shows work of :
Calogero di Natale
Dries Van Noten
Enya Vandenhende by Theo
Filles a Papa
Honest by Bruno Pieters
Joanne Vanden Avenne
Katrien Van Hecke
Kris Van Assche
Maison Martin Margiela
Marc Philippe Coudeyre
Mattia Van Severen
Tim Van Steenbergen
Tom Van Der Borght
Walter Van Beirendonck
From : 04 December 2013, to 31 March 2014
Open Monday to Friday (closed on Tuesday)
HKDI and IVE (Lee Wai Lee) 3 King Ling Road
Tseung Kwan O, NT, HK