New On The Catwalk

Royal Academy Of Fine Arts

In accordance with the spirit of the times, a number of new departments were added to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts: graphic design, photography, jewellery design, ceramic arts and fashion design. Mary Prijot championed the establishment of a fully-fledged fashion department within the Academy. She gave the fashion department an international appeal and set very high creative standards, both for fashion drawing and later, for fashion design. Together with Marthe Van Leemput, who added the subjects of tailoring and pattern design to the curriculum, she drew a blueprint for the fashion department, a plan which still serves its purpose extremely well.

Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Bikkembergs, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Van Saene, Dries Van Noten and Martin Margiela are designers who graduated from the Academy in the beginning of the eighties, when the fashion department was under the patronage of Mary Prijot. In the beginning of the eighties, the fashion world and the international media started to get interested in Antwerp fashion designers.From then on, the fashion department of the Royal Academy shared in this international interest, not in the least because of the continuous quality of the collections designed by some of the now aforementioned famous ex-students and a new generation of designers as Veronique Branquinho, A.F. Vandevorst, Stephan Schneider, Bernhard Willhelm, Bruno Pieters, Tim Van Steenbergen, Peter Pilotto, Les Hommes/ Bart Van Den Bossche and Tom Notte, Haider Ackermann, Kris Van Assche amongst many others.

The fashion department of the Antwerp Academy sees fashion in the broadest sense of the word; as a form of expression of the emotions of our times. Clothing reflects society or, adversely, questions it. Fashion people are not a self-absorbed clique, but committed people who question prevailing concepts of ethics and aesthetics and take a stand for or against aggression, rejection, denial, helplessness. In fashion, there is a freedom of expression which can at times be shocking, alarming, astounding or tempting. The training provided by the fashion department stimulates innovation.

The approach is focused on experimentation, improvisation and formal innovation. The goal is that the students ultimately achieve an appealing synthesis of all these aspects, on the basis of the professional skills they have acquired. By nature, a designer has a limitless interest in the unknown and the new, a tendency that we stimulate in our students. All art forms feature on the curriculum: the history of art, the history of costume, film, literature and music. Other cultures and worlds are explored, philosophy and psychology contribute to a profound and enriching development. The curriculum includes drawing from a model, which is both a form of contemplation and a guideline for designing. Learning to create the illusion of depth on a sheet of paper is undoubtedly a plus for the artistic development of a designer. We aim at training designers who combine their natural and stimulated creativity with virtuosity in different disciplines and with excellent professional skills as well as the required perseverance. Fashion designers design clothes for a manufacturer or for a brand name, but can also create their own collections.

The great difference between the Academy and similar study courses at technical institutes is in the creative approach. Fashion designers who are trained at an academy and who studied four years with painters, sculptors, graphic designers, and students of other courses, live in a creative artistic atmosphere that leaves a mark on their personality.It requires effort and perseverance. Students are expected to be very good draughtsmen. The study from live model in postures and movements is essential. Students must also show a high degree of originality in their designs. Through form studies, pattern studies, research and graphic work, they have to be able to make their own creations.



    Royal Academy of Fine Arts

    Nationalestraat 28/3,

    Antwerp B-2000, BE