ANTWERP: The Royal Academy Fashion Show – our experience with what’s next in Fashion


While waiting outside for the show, I started to think how different should had been the people in the school when it was founded in 1663, becoming the fourth Art School in the World. Or even 300 years later, exactly in 1963, when the unique new course “Fashion design” was created. How many trends, social changes, people, fails, successes, discoveries must have lived this Institution? How different was all that from the image we had in front of our eyes? 

Nel Maertens

The School maintains the spirit, the passion, the ambition and expertise that it had at the beginning, and the students still feel the same honour of belonging to it. What we perceived in this year’s Show was the heart of the current youth, the revolutionary spirit at all levels that wants to break everything, from the fast-consuming system to traditional gender values, through Fashion creation (for us, the 8th Art without any doubts).  

We (ai)spied a lot of people and saw that skirts or fantasy jewellery are not for girls only, that daring fashion has no age, sequins are never too shiny, “over-dressed” is not a valid term anymore and elegance never gets old.

Moreover, we had the pleasure to talk to the amazing Emma Bale, who told us about her insights on emerging fashion and the school. The singer, who always tries to support Belgian designers by wearing their clothes on events, explained that the Royal Academy has a very high standard because of the excellent teachers as well as the high pressure to perform. As it often occurs that there are many talents competing to show the world their differentiated offer but, most of the times, the creative part is not enough to shine among all. The students must learn not only the techniques, but also how to address their work to the public, and how to be constant and consistent.  

Inside Waagnatie, the spectacle started: 1st year’ students presented “Fantasy” and “Young and having fun”, designs with white as the predominant colour; 2nd year’s worked on historical costumes, where you could identify personalities such as  Marie Antoinette or Henry VVIII; 3rd year’s developed Ethnical costumes, full of colours and symbols; finally masters, who presented their own collections and made the public go crazy! 

It was very interesting to see how the designs were evolving through the courses, and incorporating more complicated structures and cuts, until they get to the masters’ stage. At that point, the students are able to create collections that become a whole new concept. This year, masters were: Nick Haemels “Between the coloured lines”, Shuting Qiu “I am rooted but I flow”, David Viersen “Sentinel Chant”, YelizabettaVolosovka “Snake charmer”, Maximilian Rittler “Rock me Amadeus”, Sabine Skarule “+371”, Hyejin Grace Kim “Ma’s cooler”, Di Du “Sip my ocean”, Nel Maertens “Arts with benefits”, Linus Leonardsson “See you in the fog”, Victor Wang “Narcissus so himself, himself”, Quinten Maestdagh “Default by Bliss” and Brandon Wen “Brandtwerpen”. 

Each of them presented a completely different universe, with its own music and time, presented by the models that walked at different speeds and rithms. The styles varied from fantasy pieces to more urban designs, while the colours and shapes didn’t leave space for any gender assumption or stablished silhouettes. Moreover, we had the opportunity to actually touch the amazing materials and meet creators in the evening Expo.

Our favourites? Well, to be honest, ALL were brilliant. However, we chose 4 that got us like: “Hmm, I’m gonna plan an event myself so I can have an excuse to wear this.” These were:

Shuting Qiu, for her colour and pattern game, crazy and elegant at the same time.

Yelizaveta Volosovska, for the snake (just love it!), jointly with her transformation of the classic lines and plaid patterns

Nel Maertens, that invaded fashion with colourful hand painted-like pieces and bags

And Quinten Mestdagh, for his pointilissed icons, his own chain-style that reminded us to Versace and the stunning (and probably dangerous) spiky coat and boots!

Quinten Mestdagh

The Show finished with the catwalk full of overjoyed students and models, celebrating one year more that Fashion is a living art that is all around and inside us. Some feel it everyday when they get dressed, graduate from The Royal Academy of Fine Arts and some stalk all these people (that’s us). Congratulations to the School, the students and the organisers of this amazing show, and see you next year!

-Written by Virginia Lite

These guys were AISPIed and we will follow closely their steps in Fashion. In the meantime, you can follow us and keep discovering new talents hidden all around Europe.

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