In the month of May, Mode Museum (MoMu) curator Karen Van Godtsenhoven is taking over the Europeana Fashion Tumblr. With MoMu currently amidst preparations of an exhibition around the anniversary of the renowned Antwerp Fashion Academy, the curation of the Tumblr is inspired by Karen’s research.
Screenshot of the Tumblr with a sketch by Marina Yee, a silhouette by Walter Van Beirendonck, the Antwerp Six and a graduate silhouette by Walter Van Beirendonck. Images: all rights reserved.
You are currently preparing the upcoming exhibition, ‘Happy Birthday Dear Academy’, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Karen: This exhibition is part of a bigger project about the 350th birthday of the Royal Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts. This anniversary is celebrated with multiple exhibitions throughout Antwerp from September onwards. You can check the project’s website at www.happybirthdaydearacademy.be for the full programme. The whole project is curated by Walter Van Beirendonck, head of the fashion department.
The fashion department has existed for 50 years and gets a Momu exhibition showcasing work of the students of the fashion department. Through graduation silhouettes, drawings and film, the exhibition will trace the evolution of the academy over 50 years. From a small department under Mary Prijot, through the breakthrough of the Antwerp Six and Martin Margiela, and the next generations of designers under the direction of Linda Loppa and Walter Van Beirendonck, the fashion department of the Antwerp academy has grown into an institution of international acclaim with more than 40 nationalities of students. The artistic principles of the teaching methods and the results (careers) are under the spotlight in this intense and wonderful exhibition.
Poster for the upcoming exhibition at MoMu. All rights reserved.
The academy has been around for 50 years. MoMu was founded 10 years ago. What role does MoMu play in preserving and researching the history of the fashion academy?
Karen: Most ‘Belgian’ designers that MoMu collects come from this school. Many designers are not Belgian by birth, but are labelled Belgian because of their education in Antwerp. Their silhouettes and collections are the primary focus of MoMu’s collection and exhibition policy. The Antwerp school is also responsible for MoMu’s 10-year existence, so the two are very interrelated. We are now also collecting the graduation silhouettes from the most important Antwerp-trained designers for our archives. MoMu also gives an award each year to the student with the most artistic merit, whose silhouettes we showcase in our gallery.
You are currently curating our Europeana Fashion Tumblr. What will you be showing on the Tumblr this month and how does it connect to the upcoming exhibition?
Karen: It connects through my research of the graduates’ collections for the exhibition. Each week I will post some graduation images from a different decade, starting with those of the Antwerp Six and Martin Margiela, followed by the student generations of the nineties and noughties. Not all of them are in the exhibition because they didn’t survive time, but I think it is worthwhile sharing them in the virtual world. The evolution of the work will hopefully tell a little bit of the story of 50 years of Antwerp fashion.
Photograph by Karel Fonteyne. The Antwerp Six (L to R: Marina Yee,Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dirk Van Saene) and Martin Margiela were the first generation of fashion students from the Antwerp Academy to rise to international success in 1986. All rights reserved.
This post first appeared on the Europeana Fashion blog.