The Antwerp Six – 33 Years Later

The Antwerp Six – 33 Years Later

Last weekend a new breed of Antwerpian couturiers were presented as The Royal Academy of Fine Arts revealed the Graduate collections, 33 years after the birth of the infamous Antwerp Six.

In the year of 1988, Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries van Noten, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee nailed Antwerp to the map as a fashion city. The group would eventually in the years of 80/81 graduate from the school, but in 88 they all squeezed together in a truck and headed for The London Fashion Fair where they presented their collections and marked a new era. Their aesthetics differences aside, the common ground was clearly the experimental silhouettes and conceptualism – no wonder Martin Margiela is often considered the 7th member of the family.

The international influence of the Antwerp Six is a complex and vast subject. However, while studying this years master’s students you soon realize that Van Noten, Margiela & Van Demeulemeester never really left the building.

Manon Kündig has channelled Van Noten’s sense of layering as well as colouring and printing. Ray Benedict Pador introduced a contemporary gothic man in the spirit of Van Deulemeester – with a pinch of S/M-culture. Finally, So Takayama sang her louanges to Margiela, as she sent her mannequins down the runway in exaggerated paper-like silhouettes.

Belgian designer Alexandra Verschueren, who graduated from the very same school in 2009, has acknowledged the Antwerp Six’s influence on the school and Belgian fashion community, “I think it definitely influenced me in a way. It always felt kind of weird to have six such great designers, since Belgium is such a small country.”

For the past 30 years the country has been a noted fashion nation in their own right, with a heritage that will continue to grow with every new generation of designers, as they interpret the days gone by.

Petsy von Köhler