Exhibition

Trompe-l’-oeil feathers

Dress and waist belt made of silk foulards by Hermès, with print in feather pattern 1970-1980, MoMu Collection T04/97AB, donation by Mrs. Herbosch-Ceurremans. Photo: Stephen Mattues

Dress and waist belt made of silk foulards by Hermès, with print in feather pattern 1970-1980, MoMu Collection T04/97AB, donation by Mrs. Herbosch-Ceurremans. Photo: Stephen Mattues

Feathers and feather patterns are very suitable to create a trompe-l’-oeil effect. They can also be treated in such a way that they do not even resemble a feather anymore.

In addition, one can work with feather prints or use other materials that are made to look like feathers. Thanks to the wide variety and different kind of feathers, the opportunities are endless. Because feathers are often used to imitate fur, they are sometimes extended by or replaced by other animal materials that create a feather coat effect.

Behind the scenes, Collection

New acquisition Raf Simons S/S2014

Raf Simons S/S2014 A-line T-shirt in neoprene with print. MoMu Collection, Photo: Monica Ho

Raf Simons S/S2014 A-line T-shirt in neoprene with print. MoMu Collection, Photo: Monica Ho

MoMu recently acquired a selection of the striking S/S2014 Raf Simons collection.
Simons’ collection was inspired by Pop Art and explored the ideas concerning branding and consumption with slogans like “Artificially flavored” and “This is the new shape”.

Raf Simons S/S2014 Sleeveless A-line T-shirt in neoprene with print. MoMu Collection, Photo: Monica Ho

Raf Simons S/S2014 Sleeveless A-line T-shirt in neoprene with print. MoMu Collection, Photo: Monica Ho

Raf Simons S/S2014 Super Trekker Boots in soft leather, suède and technical fibres and rubber sole. MoMu Collection, Photo: Monica Ho

Raf Simons S/S2014 Super Trekker Boots in soft leather, suède and technical fibres and rubber sole. MoMu Collection, Photo: Monica Ho

“Nature versus artifice: that might have been that might have been the core of it all. A lot of the fabrics were purely synthetic, but the sentiment behind them was as real and as ardent as the one that drove Simons nearly 20 years ago when he made clothes inspired by the songs of angry young men. But something had to change. Less anger, more light. A sense of fun. The key word for Simons was “freedom.” He is known for his tailoring, but there was precious little of that here, because suits are ultimately just another restrictive uniform. A Simons show is always a proposal. Ideas need to be digested, recast in their essence. That will happen here, too. You’ll see these things filter into the world in one free form or another.” quote from Tim Blanks review on Style.com

Exhibition

Pheasant

Haider Ackermann, A/W 2006-2007. Silhouette with pheasant feathers. Photo: Marleen Daniëls

Haider Ackermann, A/W 2006-2007. Silhouette with pheasant feathers. Photo: Marleen Daniëls

Pheasant is the vernacular name of many species of the Phasianinae subfamily (Galliformes order). There are twenty-three species of the pheasant itself, not counting the closely related species sic as Peafowl, Tragopan and Junglefowl,… Like most birds that nest on the ground, the females have a dull plumage which camouflages them when they brood, whereas the males sport gleaming colors and, characteristic of the group, long tails. The courtship parades are often spectacular. At least 15 pheasant species are in danger or threatened around the world by hunting or by the destruction of their habitat.

Only one species is commonly encountered in Europe: the Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), which does not originate from our regions but from the Black Sea basin. It is the most widespread and common pheasant in the world. Million of birds are bred each year in order to provide game for hunters. In France, it has the unhappy privilege of being second on the list of most hunted creatures 95% of them are bred for that purpose. Indeed, our rural pheasants come from breeding farms, and without these regular contributions, the populations would quickly decline. Every self-respecting hunter must sport a pheasant feather on his hat.

Common Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus, source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phasianus_colchicus_torquatus_Hardwicke.jpg

Common Pheasant, Phasianus colchicus, source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Phasianus_colchicus_torquatus_Hardwicke.jpg

The other pheasant species have some evocative names: Reeves’s, Lady Amherst’s, Royal, Golden, Silver,…

The tail of the male Reeve’s Pheasant (Syrmaticus reevesii) can be as long as two metres. Originating in China, its population is undergoing a dangerous decline, due to deforestation, to its being hunted for food, and to the collection of ornamental feathers. It has been introduced in to Europe with limited success.

The Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus) was imported to England from China in 1740 and was introduced into other parts of Europe thereafter. A bird frequently found in aviaries and zoos, the male sports a highly colored plumage, with a long crest of golden-yellow feathers. The latter is used fro making collars and fringes. As with other species, the tail is highly prized.

Event, Exhibition, Press&PR

MoMu+Friends in Paris

Arrival of the MoMu+Friends at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Photo: Hans Mulder

Arrival of the MoMu+Friends at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Photo: Hans Mulder

Last Saturday, MoMu+Friends, the friends organization of our museum, took off to Paris to visit de Dries Van Noten – Inspirations exhibition at Les Arts Décoratifs. We could not have wished for a more beautiful day in Paris, both the exhibition and the city were a sight to behold.

On the bus wit the MoMu+Friends to visit the Dries Van Noten - Inspirations expo in Paris, Photo: Hans Mulder

On the bus wit the MoMu+Friends to visit the Dries Van Noten – Inspirations expo in Paris, Photo: Hans Mulder

The sun had already risen when we left Antwerp in the early morning. The bus trip passed quickly and smoothly as we watched Diane Vreeland’s They Eye Has To Travel and held the first part of our fashion quiz. The quiz was especially created for this trip and tested MoMu+Friends and MoMu staff on their knowledge of MoMu and Dries Van Noten! It definitely wasn’t easy, but then again, the winner received the Dries Van Noten – Inspirations catalogue!

We arrived at Les Arts Décoratifs perfectly on time, where two guides took us around the Inspirations exhibition. The exhibition was stunning and mesmerizing, displaying not only silhouettes by Dries Van Noten, but also historical silhouettes and art works that inspire Dries Van Noten’s work. The exhibition truly felt like a trip through the mind and world of the designer.

Paris looks lovely in the sun! Photo: Charlotte de Gier

Paris looks lovely in the sun! Photo: Charlotte de Gier

After the exhibition, we had a few precious hours to ourselves in a city drenched in sunshine. All participants made utmost use of their time, whether it was shopping, lunching, visiting other exhibitions or simply relaxing in one of the city’s beautiful parks. At the end of the afternoon, we all had to hop back on the bus. Although we agreed that it was much too short, we all had an inspiring and an invigorating excursion.

We would like to thank everyone for attending this excursion and hope you will join us on the next one! Also interested in the benefits of the MoMu+Friends, subscribe here!

Exhibition

Feathers and shoes: Roger Vivier

Roger Vivier, A/W 2012-2013, Blue Angel, pump in leather, satin silk, man-made fibre, coloured chicken feathers. Photo: © Roger Vivier

Roger Vivier, A/W 2012-2013, Blue Angel, pump in leather, satin silk, man-made fibre, coloured chicken feathers. Photo: © Roger Vivier

Ever since the 19th century, shoes and slippers have been trimmed with swan down, but because the feathers are so fragile only very few of these have remained intact.

Roger Vivier, S/S 2008, Miami, pump in leather, covered with colored pheasant feathers, buckle in strass. Photo: © Roger Vivier

Roger Vivier, S/S 2008, Miami, pump in leather, covered with colored pheasant feathers, buckle in strass. Photo: © Roger Vivier

Although feathers are very seductive and elegant, there are only very few originals (intact) left with feathers. Ladies’ shoes, such as sandals and pumps, only have a small piece of surface to attach the feather to. It also requires a lot of handwork and feathers are easily damaged. Some experiments with feathers on shoes were conducted at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, but that was mainly after WW II.

Roger Vivier, S/S 2008, Guermantes, pump in leather, satin, man-made fibre with coloured and treated chicken and rooster feathers. Photo: © Roger Vivier

Roger Vivier, S/S 2008, Guermantes, pump in leather, satin, man-made fibre with coloured and treated chicken and rooster feathers. Photo: © Roger Vivier

That’s why the group of shoes dedicated to feathers in the exhibition Birds of Paradise is entirely dedicated to Roger Vivier, the most famous shoe designer in haute couture, who started his career at Christian Dior (1953-1963) and went on to start his own label in 1963. Since 2003, Bruno Frisoni is the fashion house’s creative director and he has continued Vivier’s experiments with feathers.

Exhibition

Perroquet by Sølve Sundsbø

Still from Perroquet by Sølve Sundsbø, 2008, SHOWstudio

Still from Perroquet by Sølve Sundsbø, 2008, SHOWstudio

Born out of a lifelong fascination with science photography and nature documentaries, the movie Perroquet showcases a body of work by fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø, comprising a short film and a selection of photographs. Keen to produce imagery that didn’t fall into the traditional genres of photography, this project’s central focus is the perroquet, a type of small, slender, long-tailed parrot.

This particular subject matter couldn’t be more removed from Sundsbø’s lavish editorial spreads and striking campaign imagery, although his reasons for choosing this particular species do, in a way, relate to fashion. Possessing almost sartorial qualities, it was the bird’s trademark vibrant plumage that piqued the photographer’s interest. Sundsbø looks to this as fashion on an evolutionary scale: compared to the fast-paced, demanding nature of the fashion calendar and the many ‘looks’ each season produces, this creature’s stunning ‘outfit’ has taken centuries to develop.

Still from Perroquet by Sølve Sundsbø, 2008, SHOWstudio

Still from Perroquet by Sølve Sundsbø, 2008, SHOWstudio

Conventional fashion photography allows the image-maker to draw on a wealth of outside creative resources – be it hair-stylists, make-up artists, or fashion stylist – to enable them to realize their intentions. In Perroquet, the subject matter encouraged Sundsbø to take a somewhat different approach, focusing on one specific element: the movement of the bird in flight. It was always Sundsbø’s chief intention to document the perroquet using photography and film; both mediums enabling him to steal moments that would normally be missed.

Shot in a controlled studio environment using high-speed cameras, the slow-motion short film shows the bird mid-flight. The distinct physical characteristics of the perroquet – its strong curved bill, and its clawed feet – are all visible, but it is the bird’s feathers that are the central focus. Sundsbø also gives special consideration to the bird’s slender silhouette, by cleverly incorporating shots of its shadow. The photographs present ‘frozen moments’ of the bird’s journey; rather than showing its full body, the cropped viewpoints bring abstract qualities to Sølve Sundsbø’s powerful images.

Perroquet was originally launched online in 2008 on SHOWstudio and is also on view at the Birds of Paradise expo at MoMu.

Edition, Exhibition, Press&PR

Birds of Paradise catalogue

Catalogue Birds of Paradise published by Lannoo. Photo: Suzan Rylant

Catalogue Birds of Paradise published by Lannoo. Photo: Suzan Rylant

The Birds of Paradise exhibition is accompanied by a beautiful catalogue, with a lay-out by Paul Boudens and published by Lannoo. The book is an excellent point of reference for those who cannot see the exhibition or those who want to know more!

Catalogue Birds of Paradise published by Lannoo. Photo: Suzan Rylant

Catalogue Birds of Paradise published by Lannoo. Photo: Suzan Rylant

The essays in the book tell many stories about feathers in fashion: the art of the plumassier is explained and illustrated by more than 30 images of Maison Lemarié, the Parisian plumassier house that does the feather work for most of the French couture labels. They gave us an exclusive sneak peak in their creations for Chanel and Dior haute couture.

Catalogue Birds of Paradise published by Lannoo. Photo: Suzan Rylant

Catalogue Birds of Paradise published by Lannoo. Photo: Suzan Rylant

Wim Mertens, our collections curator, wrote about the status and prestige of feather fans throughout the centuries.

Catalogue Birds of Paradise published by Lannoo. Photo: Suzan Rylant

Catalogue Birds of Paradise published by Lannoo. Photo: Suzan Rylant

Miren Arzalluz, a world renowned Balenciaga expert, went deeper into the abstract shapes that Balenciaga created with feathers.

Catalogue Birds of Paradise published by Lannoo. Photo: Suzan Rylant

Catalogue Birds of Paradise published by Lannoo. Photo: Suzan Rylant

Emmanuelle Dirix delved into the 1920s and 1930s and gives an explanation for the popularity of feathers in Hollywood film costumes, as they had an erotic effect which made for extra glamorous 1930s divas. Apart from the seductive, plush ostrich feathers, rooster feathers were also used to symbolize a dark, mysterious femme fatale.

Catalogue Birds of Paradise published by Lannoo. Photo: Suzan Rylant

Catalogue Birds of Paradise published by Lannoo. Photo: Suzan Rylant

Other essays include feather shoes, Ann Demeulemeester’s use of feathers, the features of specific feathers, and the peacock symbolism, but that’s for another post! You can buy online at Copyright Bookshop!

Exhibition

Marlene Dietrich

Marlene Dietrich takes a bow, 1962. Source image: http://her0inchic.com/post/82301277939/marlene-dietrich-takes-a-bow-1962

Marlene Dietrich takes a bow, 1962. Source image: http://her0inchic.com/post/82301277939/marlene-dietrich-takes-a-bow-1962

The showpiece of the exhibition Birds of Paradise is Marlene Dietrich’s swan down coat, a loan from the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin. She first wore it in 1957 at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas and numerous times thereafter in the 1960s.

Swan down coat by Jean Louis of Hollywood for Marlene Dietrich, 1957 on view at Birds of Paradise at MoMu Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Swan down coat by Jean Louis of Hollywood for Marlene Dietrich, 1957 on view at Birds of Paradise at MoMu Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

The feathers of over 300 swans were needed to make the coat, which was 360cm long from collar to tail. The coat was worn over a dress that was made of 227.000 rhinestones. The designer, Jean Louis of Hollywood, was head designer from Columbia Pictures and had worked with Marlene Dietrich since 1953 to make her movie costumes, personal dresses and the outfits she wore in her shows in Las Vegas. Dietrich, the ultimate perfectionist, was a very demanding client and didn’t leave much room for the designer’s creativity. She considered her costumes to be works of art and she took very good care of them.

Sketch by Jean Louis of Hollywood, 1957.

Sketch by Jean Louis of Hollywood, 1957.

Exhibition

Feathers & fashion photography

Irving Penn, Woman in chicken hat (Lisa Fonssagrives Penn), 1949

Irving Penn, Woman in chicken hat (Lisa Fonssagrives Penn), 1949

Feathers are popular in film costumes and fashion photography because of their graphic qualities and the playful, seductive touch touch they bring to the person wearing them.

Irving Penn, Girl drinking wine (Mary Jane Russell), 1949

Irving Penn, Girl drinking wine (Mary Jane Russell), 1949

They are often used to bring out a certain characteristic of the woman wearing them by portraying her wearing a certain type of feathers. The same goes for these two pictures by the famous American fashion photographer Irving Penn. In the picture Woman in chicken hat we see his wife, model and muse Lisa Fonssagrives Penn who is playfully portrayed wearing a hat with chicken feathers. In the other picture Girl drinking wine Mary Jane Russell, one of Penn’s other muses, is drinking a glass of wine. Her headdress with feathers emphasizes the airy and elegant character that marked the fashion of the 1950s.

Event, Press&PR

Report Heritage Day 2014

Installation for Erfgoeddag 2014 at the MoMu Library, Photo: Suzan Rylant

Installation for Erfgoeddag 2014 at the MoMu Library, Photo: Suzan Rylant

On April 27th the library of the Fashion Museum Antwerp was transformed into a small exhibition space for Erfgoeddag (Heritage Day) in the theme ‘Without Boundaries’. All thanks to a generous donation from Wiebe Stodel in 2001, the library has a collection of over 6,000 books about traditional regional costumes, jewelry, body adornment and hairstyles from around the world. Wiebe Stodel made his first trip to former Yugoslavia in 1966, where he received a book about Yugoslavian costumes from friends. In 30 years this developed into an enormous collection which also contains photo cards, pictures and other types of documentation.

Items from the Wiebe Stodel ethnical collection at the MoMu Library, Photo: Suzan Rylant

Items from the Wiebe Stodel ethnical collection at the MoMu Library, Photo: Suzan Rylant

For Erfgoeddag the MoMu staff and Wiebe Stodel selected the most important and special pieces from the collection. All day visitors could discover the often rare and unique books about regional costumes from all over the world. On several displays different types of accessories, such as knitted socks from Bosnia and woven caps from Nepal, were exhibited for the public. Next to that, a couple of traditional garments were displayed, such as a traditional dancing gown from Croatia and a woolen coat from former Kosovo.

Ethnical costumes from the Antwerp Fashion Department at the MoMu Gallery, Photo: Charlotte de Gier

Ethnical costumes from the Antwerp Fashion Department at the MoMu Gallery, Photo: Charlotte de Gier

Ethnical costumes from the Antwerp Fashion Department at the MoMu Gallery, Photo: Charlotte de Gier

Ethnical costumes from the Antwerp Fashion Department at the MoMu Gallery, Photo: Charlotte de Gier

In the gallery on the ground floor visitors could see costumes made by 3rd year students from the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy. Their challenge was to recreate their own versions of regional costumes, varying from a King’s Wedding Outfit from Bhutan to a Nigerian dancing costume.

This year’s Erfgoeddag was a successful day where many visitors discovered the highlights of the Stodel Collection and were surprised by all the different traditional costumes from all around the world. On to next year’s Erfgoeddag in the theme ‘Erf!’

(text: Monica Ho)