Wouters made several portraits of Nel in her famous dress with the red stripes. One such example is this work, Reading Woman (green book). Due do their limited financial means, Nel owned only a handful of fancy dresses, which she had ordered to be made using bright colours to inspire her husband. These dresses therefore feature time and time again in Wouters’s work. The artist Fernand Verhaegen also painted Nel in her striped dress, which only cost her 12.50 francs.
The designer Christian Wijnants created fashion that is both comfortable and sophisticated and combines handicraft techniques (dyeing, knitting, embroidery) with high-tech materials and processes. The soft, restrained nature of his collections is imbued with an artistic aesthetic: Wijnants paints using strips of fabric, he assembles collages using a range of application techniques, and he dyes his wool by hand, thereby creating a subtle play of colours. For this room, he selected silhouettes that employed a hand-painted stripe motif, as an ode to Nel Wouters’s striped dress.
Rik Wouters & the Private Utopia until 26th February 2017 at MoMu Antwerp