Antwerp Fashion History

Not only is Antwerp Europe’s diamond-cutting capital, it is also a hub of cutting edge fashion. It all began in the 1980s when the Minister of Economic Business, Willy Claes, decided to support the textile industry by giving financial help to small local companies. Fashion shows and contests gave local designers a platform to compete with large international designer companies. This allowed for the rise and shine of the Antwerp Six, a group of fashion designers comprised of Dirk Bikkembergs, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Van Saene, Walter Van Beirendonck et Marina Yee.

They were named the Antwerp Six by the British media during the “British design show” in 1988. Since then Antwerp is delivering avant-garde fashion that attracts International attention. Flemish designers are constantly present at the Paris Fashion Week. Among those who followed the path of the Antwerp Six towards International recognition are Martin Margiela (whom worked for Gaultier, Hermes and Diesel) and Ralf Simons, creative director of Jil Sanders.


Antwerp is a creative hub of the fashion industry. Synonymous with good taste and quality, it is a rare diamond, a marvel in the world of fashion. The streets of Antwerp are a real treat. Sample Belgian beers and admire the view. The subversive, bold artistic flair is inspiring, liberating even. On the streets and on the runway, Belgian fashion is authentic and accessible. Fashion that expresses the self more than social status. Refreshing!

The Antwerp fashion scene is dominated by the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. The Antwerp Six and their followers all graduated from this influential academy. It set the highly creative tone of their work by stimulating experimentation through innovative forms, color combinations, and treatments of materials. The academy encourages fashion people to question prevailing concepts of aesthetics and ethics and to interact with other art forms. Its new generation of avant-garde designers are the fresh faces of tomorrow’s fashion world and make the academy an International trendsetter in its own right. A sneak peek into the collections of its 2011 master students reveals the emotions of our times, as well as what tomorrow holds in store for us.

The Warrior Goddess

No better day than today to embrace your inner goddess (dark side, fun side and all). The warrior goddess is back, she has taken on an ultramodern outlook. Collections showcase armor-like metallics and classic full-length silhouettes reminiscent of Greek mythology. Rich, rigid fabrics that frame the body are combined with soft and flowy fabrics which enhance its curves.

En-Ya Vandenhende’s “Heritage” collection is comfortable yet elegant, edgy yet romantic. Her clothes make no compromise. When in doubt, opt for opposites and play with contrasts. Contemporary elegance is all about balance and composition.

Frederick Hornofand’s collection “Then was my neophyte” is a perfect combination of power and sensibility. His neophyte is the contemporary woman at her best, with hot pink befriending nude tones.

Karolina Piech’s “Ultra” collection silk cocktail dresses have beautiful luster and draping effect and are a subtler approach to the warrior goddess look. In his “Guess technology isn’t ready for pancake teleportation” menswear collection.

Niels Peeraer takes the androgynous look to the extreme by pairing tulle with tan leather. A unique balance, halfway between realism and fantasy, is what makes the warrior goddess so alluring. Almost haunting. A fashion path to be followed…

Photos from

Written by Rosalie Fabre


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