Camouflage symposium report

One shot, one kill

From the 13th to 15th of October, the Camouflage Takes Centre Stage symposium took place at the Royal Military Academy in Brussels: a three day conference about camouflage, with researchers from many different disciplines. The event was organised by Ilse Bogaerts, costume conservator at the Royal Army Museum.

On Friday October 15th, the programme was particularly interesting to the fashion crowd, as Patricia Mears (FIT), Sarah Scaturro (Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian) and Karen van Godtsenhoven (MoMu) all gave their specific interpretations of camouflage in fashion. In addition, Griet Kockeltoren (former MoMu member of staff, now independent conservation consultant) opened an interesting debate about the advantages, but also on the damage that some conservation methods may cause.

The day was a mixture of fashion history and textile conservation lectures, mixed with art talks (by Davide Fornari and Laurence Graffin-Vene), as well as very scientific and military talks about different types of camouflage, nanotechnology and the future of camouflage. The highlight of Friday afternoon was the sniper demonstration by Belgian Captain Bryan Decoux, who made the attendees wear binoculars, giving them tips to locate the sniper in their surroundings, until… BANG BANG!! A few bullets went off, but no one could spot the sniper even with the very strong binoculars.

A great demonstration of how good urban camouflage can work, now that the battlefield is so often the city rather than the great wide open. The day ended with a lot of socializing between the fashion and military crowds, with the exchange of some Belgian camouflaged military uniforms for a few admiring smiles as the cherry on the cake.

Proceedings from the conference will be published later this year at