Collection, Library

New Acquisition: Video Material from Horst Wanschura

MoMu library is extremely excited to have received a generous donation from Horst Wanschura, a multibrand concept store in Stuttgart, Germany. The store has donated a ton of video material to the library including rare video footages of 80s – 90s collections of renowned fashion designers such as Jean Paul Gaulthier, Junya Watanabe, Ann Demeulemeester etc. We are extremely proud to add these gems to our current collection. The next step? Digitalize all the fragile VHS material and keep them safe!


Teaser Rik Wouters & The Private Utopia

From 17|09|2016 > 26|02|2017 MoMu will presents its newest expo Rik Wouters & The Private Utopia. In collaboration with KMSKA, MoMu will unite fashion, craftsmanship and art. Starring the intimate and domestic paintings by Rik Wouters combined with silhouettes from Belgian designers and contemporary artists.



Upcoming: Rik Wouters & the Private Utopia

Rik Wouters ©KMSKA | Photo by Ronald Stoops | Graphic design by Paul Boudens

Rik Wouters ©KMSKA | Photo by Ronald Stoops | Graphic design by Paul Boudens

The theme of enchanting homeliness by painter Rik Wouters, as well as the intimate feeling of sanctity between him and his wife Nel, forms the premise of this exhibition.

In our region, Wouters was the only artist to combine Post-Impressionist painting techniques with simple domestic scenes. His expressive brush strokes and the unfinished style of his canvases give a dynamic to his work that, combined with the emphasis on lighting and colour, result in an enchanting and optimistic quality.


Rik Wouters, Tullips, 1912, oil on canvas © KMSKA – Lukasart in Flanders VZW, Photo: Hugo Maertens / Dirk Van Saene, SS 2005, Photo: Stany Dederen

In this exhibition, the contemporary movement in which people are again seeking domestic intimacy and contact with nature, the ‘slow’ movement and the renewed attention for traditional techniques, like ceramics, weaving and dyeing, are linked with the utopian philosophy from Henry David Thoreau’s book Walden.


Rik Wouters, Self Portrait With Black Eye Patch, 1915, oil on canvas © KMSKA – Lukasart in Flanders VZW, Photo: Hugo Maertens / Jan-jan Van Essche, No Man Is An Island, SS2016, © Photo: Pietro Celestina & Maud Van Haegenborgh

Various Belgian fashion designers — including Dirk Van Saene, Bruno Pieters, Christian Wijnants, Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Veronique Branquinho, Martin Margiela and Jan-Jan Van Essche — give their individual interpretations to these thoughts: some by choosing specific fabrics and techniques, and others through their idiosyncratic position in fashion, in which they do not give praise to the hectic pace of the fashion world.


Rik Wouters, Kale, not dated, oil on canvas © KMSKB , Photo: J. Geleyns, RO Scan / Bernhard Willhelm, SS 2001, © Photo: Carmen Freudenthal & Elle Verhagen

This exhibition is a partnership between MoMu and the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of painter Rik Wouters in 2016. The exhibition brings together work by Rik Wouters from the KMSKA collection and pieces by contemporary artists and fashion designers.

Behind the scenes, Collection

Working with the MoMu/UA Study Collection: Traditional German headware


Traditional German headware (ca. 1890)

Inventory number: 80289

Materials and techniques: Silk; Cotton; Wool; Cardboard; Metal thread (silver); Metal lamina strips; Glass beads; Stones


This hat is a beautiful example of a mixed-material object that can be found in a textile collection. It consists of a metal frame, which was completely deformed, with a silver coating, richtly ornamented with motives in silver thread and silver lamina strips, and finished with beads. The methods for conserving metal were chosen so as not to be harmful for the textile, and vice versa. The frame was carefully bent back into its proper form. Corrosion on the frame was removed by an abrasive method after which the metal was protected with a coating against the influences of oxygen. The fibres of the fragile, damaged and broken silk ribbons were stabilized on a silk support and protected by a silk crepeline. This is a method to preserve and protect the ribbons, which yields a nice uniform result and gives the viewer an idea of how the hat must have looked in its earlier days.

Words by Bernice Brigou and Natalie Ortega, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Design Sciences, research group Heritage & Sustainability. Project supported by the Flemish Government.


New Acquisition: Iris Van Herpen couture dress worn by Björk


Thanks to MoMu+Friends, MoMu has acquired a new item from the Kerry Taylor Auction: Björk’s Iris van Herpen couture off-white iridescent acrylic dress, worn for the ‘Biophilia’ tour, ‘Micro’ collection, Spring-Summer, 2012.


Björk’s Iris van Herpen couture off-white iridescent acrylic dress, worn for the ‘Biophilia’ tour, ‘Micro’ collection, Spring-Summer, 2012. the nude jersey ground applied with complex armour-like layers of fan-shaped hand and laser cut acrylic panels.

Iris van Herpen’s inspiration for this collection was scientific SEM photographs of bacilli, vermin, mites, lice and termites. She said, ‘I wanted to show the beauty of them, because in my eyes they are the most bizarre, unbelievable and most imaginative creatures imaginable’ This dress took 4 months to complete..

Impressed by the dress? Our ‘Game Changers’ expo features a few more radical dresses by Iris Van Herpen! Game Changers: Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette until 14th August at MoMu Antwerp!


Working with the MoMu/UA Study Collection: Challenges of Black Lace


Mitten (beginning 20th century)

Materials and techniques: Lace; Cotton


The presentation of lace poses a challenge because of its transparency, especially when it is a three dimensional object. A second year student was given the assignment to think of a combined presentation/preservation solution and to study the materials and technology of this black lace mitten, followed by a conservation treatment. The mitten came into the study collection, stuffed in a plastic bag, wrinkled and damaged with lacunas. Relaxation of fibres and creases was achieved with ultrasonic cold steam. The entire mitten was then doubled on a support of white tulle. Lacunas were camouflaged by local colouring of the tulle in black. A white silk cushion was made to match the exact form of the mitten: it provides a perfect support and enables the viewer to clearly see the design of the lace.

Words by Bernice Brigou and Natalie Ortega, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Design Sciences, research group Heritage & Sustainability. Project supported by the Flemish Government.


Antwerp Academy: SHOW2016

Photo: Ronald Stoops

Photo: Ronald Stoops

On June 10th & 11th 2016, the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts – Artesis Plantijn University College presents its annual fashion show at Park Spoor Noord in Antwerp.

SHOW2016 will be held on Friday June 10th and Saturday June 11th. Students from all four years will show their work in a new and challenging environment to a varied and interested audience of over 4,000 fashion enthusiasts and professionals from all over the world. An international jury of experts in fashion and creativity judges their collections and installations. The show is repeated two evenings in a row. Save the date and reserve your tickets!


(Behind) the Clothes.


On 5th June, Bruno Pieters, Belgian fashion designer and art director highly regarded for his avant-garde creations and sharp tailoring, believes that “fashion is about beauty and that the story behind fashion can be equally beautiful”, presents (Behind) the Clothes.

The future of Fashion is not just about new trends, it is about the urgent need for a new consciousness. High-end fashion must set an example in the clothing industry by adopting the highest ethical standards. These standards need to be transparent, because without transparency the consumer lacks the information to make informed ethical choices. With this exhibition, Bruno Pieters shows how he not only offers totally ethical, environmentally-friendly designs, but also leads the way in offering 100% transparency to the consumer. There are two parts to the exhibition: ’The Clothes’ and ‘Behind the Clothes’.

Behind the clothes – literally and figuratively – Pieters presents a series of portrait photographs of over 40 people involved in the Belgian fashion making process here in Antwerp. The series includes portraits of Etienne Debruyne, a Belgian Flax producer; Raymond Libeert CEO of Libeco – one of the few surviving manufacturers of linen in Belgium; and Rosalinde Heerkens and Aurélie Callewaert of Trois Quarts – Antwerp’s renowned pattern designer duo. The series also showcases Fashion creatives and image makers including photographer Alex Salinas; make-up artist Gina Van den Bergh; stylist Ilja de Weerdt; and model Anouck Lepère. In short, a journey behind the clothes showcases 40 members of the creative/ production team, from the raw material to the ad campaign, and every talent along the way. All photography by Bruno Pieters



Cristóbal Balenciaga: The cocoon silhouette vs the New Look

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Stany Dederen

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Stany Dederen

Haute couture is like an orchestra, for which only Balenciaga is the conductor. The rest of us are just musicians, following the directions that he gives us. – Christian Dior

These words famously pronounced by Christian Dior in 1955, at the height of his own career, perfectly summarize Cristóbal Balenciaga’s undisputed leading role in fashion during the 1950s and 1960s. However, this didn’t always seem such an obvious development. When Dior himself captivated women around the world with the presentation of his first collection in February 1947 he was also launching the dominant silhouette of the 1950s, soon to be known as the New Look. Featuring rounded shoulders, a cinched waist, and very full skirt, the New Look celebrated opulence and a certain branch of voluptuous femininity. After years of military inspired fashions and sartorial restrictions resulting from war, Dior seemed to offer women exactly what they were aspiring to, even if this entailed reintroducing the corset in their wardrobes and in their lives. In the early 1940s Cristóbal Balenciaga had already initiated a creative path of his own, marked by a progressive experimentation with form and construction which aimed at establishing a new relationship between body and garment. Balenciaga’s introduction of the cocoon silhouette played a vital role in this process. Balenciaga’s interpretation of the cocoon silhouette was closely related to the Japonism that influenced fashion at the beginning of the twentieth century. Couturiers such as Paul Poiret, Callot Soeurs or Madeleine Vionnet incorporated the Japanese kimono into women’s dress, bringing with it an unfamiliar silhouette that would revolutionize fashion over the next few decades. The characteristic arch over the back, the collar falling back to reveal the nape, the asymmetrical long hem, shorter at the front and longer at the back: these are the most definitive characteristics of this first Japonist silhouette.

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Stany Dederen

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Stany Dederen

Profoundly influenced by the work of these early innovators, Balenciaga used his own interpretation of the cocoon shaped silhouette to depart from established notions of beauty and femininity in the middle of the 20th century. It was precisely in February 1947 when Balenciaga presented the so-called “barrel line”, a cocoon shaped and liberating silhouette which obliterated the waist and offered women an alternative way of moving and experiencing dress.


Balenciaga’s commitment to rethinking the silhouette and searching for alternative volumes had not always been apparent in his work. In August 1939, driven by a marked historicism that pervaded all Paris couture collections of the season, he introduced his famous ‘Infanta’ dresses, which closely replicated the silhouette of seventeenth-century Spanish court dress, with its rigid bust and a tight waist, descending with stark contrast into a voluminous skirt with full hips. Balenciaga, ever the perfectionist, did not hesitate to use the most effective methods for reproducing the desired silhouette.


Balenciaga, AW 1939, ‘infanta’-style evening dress. © Balenciaga Archives

Thus, Rosette Hargrove, a correspondent for the Newspaper Enterprise Association, reported with significant astonishment from Paris:

Wasp waists are in again – despite the scoffers. Hips are also to be cultivated, if you want to wear some of the new styles convincingly. Rounded hips, in fact, are fast showing promise of becoming one of the canons of 1939 beauty, rather than the defect women have striven so hard to eliminate these past years. Balenciaga, the most recent and very successful addition to the ranks of the top-flight couturiers, had at least three of his mannequins wearing boned corsets. These simply took inches off their waists and made their hips bulge somewhat disconcertingly to the eyes of the unprepared onlookers.

The outbreak of the Second World War and the occupation of Paris in June 1940 imposed a drastic change of rhythm upon Parisian fashion in general, and Balenciaga’s work in particular. In the summer of 1942 Balenciaga presented a three-quarter-length jacket arching around the shoulders and broadening at waist-level before gradually narrowing out to below the hips. The piece in question, its curved shape reminiscent of an enveloping cocoon, stood in stark contrast to the almost military straightness of designs typical not only of that season but of the war years in general.

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Autumn/Winter 1942. Cocoon shaped jacket.

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Autumn/Winter 1942. Cocoon shaped jacket. © Balenciaga Archives

Balenciaga was to perfect this silhouette in the summer of 1947, where three-quarter-length jackets and coats of identical profile were indisputably the stars of his collection. The cocoon silhouette became a classic on its own time and it soon established itself as a solid alternative that most couturiers endorsed in subsequent seasons, including, of course, Dior himself .


In a similar vein to the way Poiret or Vionnet’s interpretation of the kimono liberated women from the constricting hourglass silhouette in the early 20th century, Cristóbal Balenciaga’s cocoon shaped designs came to represent a liberating alternative to Christian Dior’s New Look. Beyond his masterfully tailored coats and jackets, Balenciaga introduced a graceful version of the flowing silhouette into his day and evening ensembles, subjecting his own work to a progressive aesthetic and technical refinement until his retirement in 1968.  

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Spring/Summer 1955. Bloused day ensemble.

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Spring/Summer 1955. Bloused day ensemble. © Balenciaga Archives

Game Changers. Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette now on display at MoMu Antwerp!

Words by Miren Arzalluz


Looking back towards the future: the work of Issey Miyake

Issey Miyake 1990 - 2015. Photo by Francis Giacobetti

Issey Miyake 1990 – 2015. Photo by Francis Giacobetti

At the close of Balenciaga’s house in 1968, Issey Miyake witnessed, as a design assistant at the atelier of Guy  Laroche, the May 1968 student revolts in Paris, with the motto “sous les pavés la plage”.

The freedom and rebellious, creative spirit of these revolts inspired Miyake: when he established his own house in 1970, he did not want to create ‘classical’ fashion, but future-oriented, international clothes which could be worn universally. His approach of mixing art with science has resulted in many successful concepts: Pleats Please, APOC and 132.5 are all examples of cutting-edge design innovations with utopian ideas behind it.

Contemporary themes like gender neutrality, cutting out textile waste and the use of natural fibres in combination with high tech technologies have always played a part in his work.

Issey Miyake 1990 - 2015. Photo by Francis Giacobetti

Issey Miyake 1990 – 2015. Photo by Francis Giacobetti

The concept of ‘ma’, or the space between the body and the garment, the indeterminate space which the body inhabits, brings about a lot of freedom for the wearer. Many of Miyake’s clients feel great in his creations since they provide freedom of movement and a gentle touch, different to most form-fitting fashions of today. Freedom and a sense of fun are central to all Miyake’s creations, which incorporate cutting principles and an obsession with simplicity similar to Vionnet’s cuts, and a bold imagination. He fuses a love for tradition with a vision of the future.

Issey Miyake 1990 - 2015. Photo by Francis Giacobetti

Issey Miyake 1990 – 2015. Photo by Francis Giacobetti

His creations have been used often for dance productions, since bodies in motion show very well the lively energy inherent to Miyake’s creations. Photographer Francis Giacobetti has photographed Miyake’s Pleats Please creations from 1980 til today, creating iconic, graphic images which capture the imagination:

“His creations are like music. Music that surrounds bodies and women. His dreamlike inventions are like an invitation to dance. Miyake is the couturier who has already given shape to an elegance of the future.” Francis Giacobetti

 Game Changers. Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette until 14th August at MoMu Antwerp