An Antwerp Design Collective: A Nexus of Commerce, Art, and Fashion


Columbus Auditorium, 280 S. Columbus Dr.
Wednesday, April 3 at 6:00 p.m.

Free and open to the public

Moderated by Anke Loh, Chair of the SAIC Fashion Design department and Associate Professor, and Zoe Ryan, Chair and John H. Bryan Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago, this panel discussion will explore the interests, motivations, and inspirations of five influential Antwerp-based fashion and design professionals. The participants will discuss their strong history of collaboration, the importance of geography and developing a "fashion empire," and the role of fashion as a powerful axis for cultural innovation.

Walter van Beirendonck is currently chair of the Fashion department at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, where he has taught since 1985. He is an original member of the Antwerp Six, an influential collective of avant-garde fashion designers who emerged from the Royal Academy between 1980 and 1981, has participated in an extensive roster of international exhibitions, and designed costumes for numerous theater and film productions. Since establishing his label in 1983, van Beirendonck has produced a well-defined body of collections inspired by art, music, literature, nature, and ethnic influences. He is considered one of the main trendsetters in men’s fashion, and his designs are instantly recognizable for their bold visual details, innovative cuts, and unexpected color combinations. He is also the artistic director for Scapa Sports and the designer of Children’s collection ZULUPAPUWA for JBC.

Inge Grognard and Ronald Stoops are a husband-and-wife duo. As a makeup artist, Grognard has collaborated on magazine shoots and runway shows for Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs, Walter van Beirendonck, Dirk van Saene, and, perhaps most famously, Martin Margiela. The couple created some of the most arresting images of the '90s. Their creative partnership runs deep, and together they collaborated on the recently released book, Inge Grognard Ronald Stoops (Ludion), which documents some of their most celebrated work, captured by Ronald’s distinctive photography.

Paul Boudens is a graphic designer who creates works for numerous designers, including Walter van Beirendonck, Dries Van Noten, Wim Needs, Olivier Theyskens, Antwerp Fashion Academy, and many more. His breathtaking style is enhanced by variations of technique, including silk-screening, overprinting, UV varnish, and fluorescence, demonstrating his passion for authentic design. His book, Paul Boudens, Volume I, features an overview of his work from the last decade.

As a fashion designer, Dirk van Saene has long enjoyed worldwide recognition. Widely cited as a formative inspiration to a generation of younger designers, including Veronique Branquinho and Bemard Wilhelm, van Saene began his career with his own Antwerp shop, Beauties and Heroes in 1981. Four years later he secured his international reputation, presenting his collection in London as a member of the Antwerp Six. What sets van Saene apart is the ease with which he blends his work between the disciplines of art and fashion.