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Belgium's FFI & WBDM Present Their First Joint Showroom at Paris Fashion Week

Donnerstag, Nov. 25, 2010, 15:06 / Belgium



Anyone who’s been following Belgium’s political situation since the last June elections will certainly tell you that there are a few issues. Ongoing negotiations between parties have been tough and the search for a stable government continues, increasing concerns around a possible split between regions. Willing to take a stance and promote their country as a whole, the Flanders Fashion Institute (FFI) and Wallonia-Brussels Design/Mode (WBDM) have joined forces for the first time, presenting “Showroom [les Belges]” during Paris Fashion Week.

This is quite a significant move, demonstrating a willingness from key players in the industry to actually collaborate and use fashion as a federating tool. Edith Vervliet, head of the FFI, is very aware of the positive image Belgian designers have enjoyed abroad: “Belgium is a brand in fashion, and we know that this brand has had prestigious connotations for several decades now. We want to go beyond the cultural and political aspects, showcasing strong collections we truly believe in.” Such a concept makes sense for Vervliet, who recently noticed how others were successful in Paris with similar projects: “The idea of having a joint showroom has been taken up by others with great results. I’m thinking of the British and the Catalan for instance. They joined forces, presenting a common front to the world.”

From the 1st until the 5th of October, 14 designers will present their work in Paris at Cour Bérard, near the Place des Vosges. Basing their selection on technical strength, creative input and wearability, FFI and WBDM are aiming at generating interest from both international press and buyers, using their expertise to help designers grow their brands. This is a major focus for Philippe Suinen, head of WBDM: “Over the past decade, we have realized that young Belgian designers were often struggling with developing their business abroad and we want to coach them to have better export. It’s one thing having creative genius, but you also need solid business acumen. For me, fashion is the perfect marriage between culture and economics.”

“Showroom [les Belges]” offers an eclectic mix and varied directions, from accessory and lingerie collections to high-end prêt-à-porter and contemporary lines. Womenswear highlights include Conni Kaminski’s draped pieces in soft jersey, Monsieur Bul’s groovy retro separates, Katrien Van Hecke’s intricate, embroidered dresses and Schipper/Arques' organza shirts with hook-and-eye fastenings. Kaminski seems delighted with the new project: “There’s no doubt in my mind that it is more interesting for press and buyers to meet several designers in one single spot. This will allow me to nurture my contacts and establish my reputation. I am looking forward to seeing how they will stage the event, which is always an eye-opener from one year to the next.”

On the accessory front, Peter Ceursters will show beautifully constructed scarves, mixing textures and assembled items for a unique effect. In fact, sustainability appears to be a growing trend amongst the new Belgian wave, with Eric Beauduin crafting inventive, one of a kind bags made out of vintage leather garments. His line will be presented at the showroom and has already been picked by Sonja Noël -president of fashion association Modo Brussels and owner of style emporium Stijl-for Haleluja, her new retail concept focusing on organic and high-quality, upcycled designer wear.

Tourisme Belgique Flandre et Bruxelles will also organize an exclusive, invitation-only, event during Paris Fashion Week, presenting a new group of Antwerp designers to international trendsetters. Scheduled for the 1st of October, this “soirée anversoise” will be the first of its kind and take place at the Guy Pieters gallery in the 8th arrondissement. Combining video, photographs and art, as well as fashion installations, the party will give guests a unique insight into the designers’ inspiration and work. Christian Wijnants, Tim Van Steenbergen, Ek Thongprasert and Alexandra Verschueren – winner of the 25th Festival International de Mode et de Photographie à Hyères – are some of the names involved.

In New York, Didier Vervaeren, Modo Brussels’ newly appointed Creative Director, has presented an installation during Fashion Week at Openhouse Gallery focusing on 7 selected designers living and working in Brussels. Jessie Lecomte, Sandrina Fasoli, Isabelle Lenfant and Christophe Coppens are some of the ones he chose. Willing to showcase Brussels fashion and flair on a truly global scale, he asked director Clayton Burkhart to shoot 7 separate films, while fashion icon Diane Pernet interviewed each designer.

All these initiatives will surely prove beneficial to new Belgian names, giving them an international platform to play with and adding the right kind of exposure. Never mind the politics, Belgian fashion is here to stay and pushing a fresh, exciting generation.

Showroom Paris October 1st – 5th 2010
3 Cour Bérard, 75004 Paris, near the Place des Vosges

Philippe Pourhashemi | TribaSpace

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