belgian fashion: 1 post

The Belgians : An Unexpected Fashion Story

Belgians seem to be as surprised as anyone else that their small country could produce a seismic shift in fashion, starting with the success of the original Antwerp Six in 1986. This explains the title of a new exhibition at the Bozar Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, The Belgians: An Unexpected Fashion Story (on display till September 13). But as I walked through the exposition in tribute to the Belgian fashion scene, I wondered if it really should be so unexpected. After all, Belgium is a politically complex case, balanced precariously and unsteadily between Flemish and Wallonian interests. It has a rich, if sometimes combustive, blend of cultures, influences, and languages. In moments of crisis and stalemate, the inspiration and yearning for change take on different forms–consider the blossoming of the avant-garde movement at the turn of the 20th century.

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Belgian fashion is anything if not avant-garde. It makes a powerful statement, it casts conventions aside, it makes you look at things in a new way. It can be an experience that is both disconcerting and inspiring, and living in Belgium I have come to see it as an essential part of local culture. Fashion is taken seriously here, although not in the sense of social expectations of looking a certain way that exists in Paris or New York. It’s an idea. It’s an art form. You can wear it, if you want, or you can simply admire it. Which is what I usually do when I head to Rue Antoine Dansaert, a dynamic part of Brussels and a place for fashion pilgrimage. Young and established designers have their boutiques there, and although I rarely buy anything, I go to the stores for a dose of beauty–or a jolt–and I treat them like museums.

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