Exhibition

Feather fans

Feather fans at the Birds of Paradise at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Feather fans at the Birds of Paradise at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Since the renaissance feather fans have been used in European courts, where they are considered to be a luxury item and a status symbol. In the early 19th century, French Royal Courts would organise balls with historic themes that referred to the ‘ancien regime’, the era before the French revolution. As a result the feather fan became popular again. Queens and princesses – and in their imitation the rich bourgeois – liked to be portrayed holding a feather hand fan. An ostrich feather hand fan was particularly popular.

Folding fan, mount in ostrich feathers dyed in degrade, tortoiseshell sticks decorated with a crown and arms in platinum, diamonds, rubies and enamel, 1928, Altenloh E&R jewelers, Brussels, Former collection Queen Astrid of Belgium, Royal Collections Palace of Brussels SA.1935.0088, Photo: Stephen Mattues.

Folding fan, mount in ostrich feathers dyed in degrade, tortoiseshell sticks decorated with a crown and arms in platinum, diamonds, rubies and enamel, 1928, Altenloh E&R jewelers, Brussels, Former collection Queen Astrid of Belgium, Royal Collections Palace of Brussels SA.1935.0088, Photo: Stephen Mattues.

At the onset of the 20th century ostrich feathers dominate the scene and they continue to become bigger and bigger due to the use of extended ostrich feathers – also known as pleureuses. The technique to extend ostrich feathers (by tying various beards together) is not new, but is then being used for all kinds of hand fans.

Portrait of Queen Astrid of Belgium by the Belgian artist Leon De Smet (1881-1966)

Portrait of Queen Astrid of Belgium by the Belgian artist Leon De Smet (1881-1966)

After a period of predominantly white, black and grey ostrich feathers, they are then dyed in various shades, solid colors or gradient. They continue, however, to be almost exclusively used for evening gowns. The Belgian Queen Astrid (1905-1935), wife of Belgium’s King Leopold III also follows this fashion. Four of the Queen’s ostrich feather fans from the Royal Collection in Brussels is exhibited in the Birds of Paradise exhibition. In 1935, Leon De Smet (1881-1966) portrayed the Queen holding one of the fans, thus continuing a centuries-old tradition of the official portrait with an ostrich feather fan.

MoMu also posses a large collection of feather fans, in various types of feathers.

Feather fans from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Feather fans from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Left: Fan with leaf in Guinea fowl feathers and frame in imitation tortoise shell, with silk cord and tassel, 1890-1910. Right: Fan with leaf in Guinea fowl feathers and Impeyan Pheasant and frame in imitation tortoise shell with silk cord and tassel, 1880-1900.

Feather fan from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Feather fan from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Fan with leaf in eagle feathers and down and frame in imitation tortoise shell, 1895-1915.

Feather fan from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Feather fan from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Fan with leaf in ostrich feathers and frame in imitation tortoise shell, 1890-1910.

Feather fan from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Feather fan from the MoMu Collection, Photo: Stephen Mattues

Fan with leaf in pheasant feathers and frame in nacre, 1890-1910.

Exhibition

Birds by Melchior d’Hondecoeter

The intro of the expo Birds of Paradise at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp with a painting by Melchior d'Hondecoeter and a tableau of 23 stuffed birds, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

The intro of the expo Birds of Paradise at MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp with a painting by Melchior d’Hondecoeter and a tableau of 23 stuffed birds, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

The introduction to the exhibition is a painting by Melchior d’Hondecoeter, a loan from elaborate collection the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp. The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp is currently undergoing major renovation, which will take until the end of 2017.

The painting is presented next to a tableau with 23 stuffed birds from the collection of the Koninklijk Belgisch Instituut voor Natuurwetenschappen (KBIN – Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences) in Brussels.

The birds on the painting and on the tableau are widely varied. Their feathers have various functions and bring different connotations to mind: the peacock and the owl each have very different types of feathers and people associate them with completely different characteristics.

Birds by Melchior d'Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636 - Amsterdam 1965) a loan by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp at the Bords of Paradise expo at MoMu

Birds by Melchior d’Hondecoeter (Utrecht 1636 – Amsterdam 1965) a loan by the Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp at the Bords of Paradise expo at MoMu

A large duck at the centre of this painting dominates the entire scene. It appears to be an exceptionally large Old Dutch Tufted Duck. This type of duck is sometimes also referred to as a Red-crested Pochard or King’s duck as this particular species was favoured to inhabit the beautiful palace ponds. The completely white version in particular, seen here swimming up with its offspring, was highly favoured. On the bank you can see a Common Shelduck coming to take a look with other ducks nearby. At the left in a tree one can see a magpie a pigeon flying around at the top. Although these are not exotic species, the birds are associated with luxury and a refined lifestyle.

Exhibition

Kate MccGwire

Kate MccGwire from MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp on Vimeo.

‘I collect, sort, reuse, layer, peel, burn, reveal, localise, question, duplicate, play and photograph.’

Kate MccGwire, Vex, 2008, Mixed media with pigeon feathers in antique cabinet at the Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers exhibition, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Kate MccGwire, Vex, 2008, Mixed media with pigeon feathers in antique cabinet at the Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers exhibition, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

MoMu invited the renowned British artist Kate MccGwire to intervene with her works in the expo Birds of Paradise. MccGwire primarily works with pigeon and crow feathers, birds that today evoke mainly negative and corny connotations. She likes to respond to people’s prejudice about certain types of feathers, e.g. the pigeon that stands for innocence and romance but at the same time is considered an urban plague. Her tender and large feather sculptures, and impressionable works of art, transcend the mundane charac- ter of the pigeon feathers, which are residual products from pigeon breeding farms and often have red race numbers printed on them. She describes her work method as a way to discover and reinforce the beauty in the unconventional.

Kate MccGwire, Stifle, 2009 and Preen, 2013, Mixed media with dove and white pigeon feathers in antique glass domes at the Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers exhibition, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Kate MccGwire, Stifle, 2009 and Preen, 2013, Mixed media with dove and white pigeon feathers in antique glass domes at the Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers exhibition, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Her works are not just beautiful; they also force viewers to question their own outlook on life. They respond to emotion and ratio and have characteristics of the ‘Unheimliche’, the Freudian concept where a familiar concept is displayed in a strange way and therefore causes agitation. The mundane reality is questioned by a work that is clearly ‘different’.

Kate MccGwire, Gyre, 2012, Mixed media and crow feathers at the Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers exhibition, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

Kate MccGwire, Gyre, 2012, Mixed media and crow feathers at the Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers exhibition, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Boy Kortekaas

The round space in the expo is dominated by the formidable arc of Gyre, a large installation piece formed from a vast collection of crow feathers. Gyre refers to the cultural mythologies of crows as devious creatures, omens of bad luck when seen in pairs and closely associated with death. These associations are inscribed in the silken black surface of the structure, and intensify with the scale of the work. The piece appears to be organic, expresses MccGwire’s uncanny capacity to create fluidity and supple motion in her static sculptures.

Though Gyre appears disturbing and unfamiliar at first glance, there is something strangely recognisable about it’s form — the creases and crevices seem somehow bodily, allowing us to identify some small part of ourselves in the sculptures. This unexpected familiarity is at the heart of MccGwire’s oeuvre.

Library

Summer schedule MoMu Library

Cover image Le Livre de la Mode à Paris, Nr14, 1920, MoMu Library collection

Cover image Le Livre de la Mode à Paris, Nr14, 1920, MoMu Library collection

During the summer holidays in July and August the MoMu Library will be open by appointment only. Please contact us by mail or call +32 3 470 27 79 to make an appointment!

Exhibition

MoMu Award 2014: Madeleine Coisne – Centers

Madeleine Coisne at the MoMu Gallery in Antwerp, 2014, Photo: Charlotte De Gier

Madeleine Coisne at the MoMu Gallery in Antwerp, 2014, Photo: Charlotte De Gier

Every year, MoMu gives the “MoMu award” to a MA student of the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp. The student is judged by the creative vision and technical merit portrayed in the graduation collection. The winning collection is on view for four months in the MoMu Gallery.

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This year, the winner is Madeleine Coisne with her “Centers” collection. The sense of history in her creative vision is poignant. The collection draws from her childhood memories: her father wearing double buckle shoes and her mother’s taste for collecting curious objects.

Madeleine Coisne at the MoMu Gallery in Antwerp, 2014, Photo: Charlotte De Gier

Madeleine Coisne at the MoMu Gallery in Antwerp, 2014, Photo: Charlotte De Gier

Abstract patterns of the tiles of the Antwerp railway arches as inspiration for the collection of Madeleine Coisne, 2014, Photo: MoMu

Abstract patterns of the tiles of the Antwerp railway arches as inspiration for the collection of Madeleine Coisne, 2014, Photo: MoMu

Coisne is also inspired by the (decorative) arts. She cites the abstract patterns of the tiles of the Antwerp railway arches, the bold graphic shapes found on religious textiles, patterns from Byzantine architecture and the colours by artists such as Mondriaan and Gauguin.

Her inspirations translate into a collection of monumental, Japanese looking shapes with striking colourful patterns. Deep and rich colours reflect from silky surfaces or raggedy swatches, resulting in intricate abstract appliqué motives.

Madeleine Coisne in Unfold, the magazine of the Antwerp Fashion Department, styling: Dirk Van Saene, photo: Ronald Stoops, make-up: Inge Grognard, model: Kristina De Coninck

Madeleine Coisne in Unfold, the magazine of the Antwerp Fashion Department, styling: Dirk Van Saene, photo: Ronald Stoops, make-up: Inge Grognard, model: Kristina De Coninck

Coisne achieves to disturb our sense of what is old and what is new. Her mix of abstraction and history show that labels like “old” and “new” are very relative. We invite you to view Madeleine Coisne “Centers” collection in the MoMu gallery (free entry) during museum opening hours and in UNFOLD, the magazine of the Fashion Department.

Library

Elegance in an age of crisis

Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions in the 1930s, published by Yale University Press, 2014

Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions in the 1930s, published by Yale University Press, 2014

A recent interesting acquisition of the MoMu Library is Elegance in an Age of Crisis, a powerful book that pays a tribute to modern fashion of both men and women, and the craftspeople who constructed it. The book illustrates styles that are still seen as the ideal of beauty and modernity today.

The 1930s is seen as a decade where modern clothing was created. Set between the stock market crash and outbreak of World War II, the 1930s was surprisingly elegant and cheerful. Both women’s high fashion, men’s tailoring and the accessories got a modern and elegant touch.

Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions in the 1930s, published by Yale University Press, 2014

Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions in the 1930s, published by Yale University Press, 2014

With the rise of classicism, the shapeless styles of the 1920s were replaced by fashion that was all about the proportions and balance. Advances in textile technology and reliance on craftsmanship led to a new, modern style of clothing. To keep the style of well-proportioned and balanced clothing, the tailors and dressmakers constructed clothing without padding and boning.

Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions in the 1930s, published by Yale University Press, 2014

Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions in the 1930s, published by Yale University Press, 2014

Head down to the MoMu library to get this book in your hands and indulge yourself in the modern clothing of 1930s!
Check out our new acquisitions via our website!

(text Monica Ho)

Behind the scenes, Press&PR

We’re in deep water

#wateraandelippen, 24 Flemish musea protest in Brussels, photo: Gabrielle De Pooter

#wateraandelippen, 24 Flemish musea protest in Brussels, photo: Gabrielle De Pooter

Yesterday, 24 Flemish museums gathered on the Martelarenplein in Brussels, where the Flemish government is housed. Of course, MoMu was present as well! Together we stood up against the shortage of federal funding, which is the result of a budget freeze for the period 2014-2018. In an open letter, among others MAS, S.M.A.K., MHKA, KMSKA, FoMu and MoMu, pleaded for nearly a doubling of the current budget: from 8.2 to 16 million euros. Due to the shortage in resources, many of the institutions are already in deep water.

#wateraandelippen, 24 Flemish musea protest in Brussels, photo: Gabrielle De Pooter

#wateraandelippen, 24 Flemish musea protest in Brussels, photo: Gabrielle De Pooter

For the protest itself, each museum brought along one piece of its archive: a piece that for them illustrates the necessity of this action. MoMu opted for a picture of the iconic ‘Bar jacket’ from Christian Dior by Raf Simons for the Spring/Summer 2013 collection. Thanks to the financial support of the MoMu+Friends, the friends organization, MoMu was able to add this wonderful piece to its collection.

Without a strong financial support coming from the federal government, MoMu cannot maintain its role as representative of Belgian fashion and fashion heritage on a global level.

Take a look at the report of the gathering on VRT, the Belgian national television.

(text: Hannah Bergen)

Exhibition

Feathers and Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy

The Birds of Paradise exhibition has amongst its silhouettes two extraordinary haute couture looks loaned to MoMu by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy.

Detail of the dress Zuzanna, Haute Couture A/W 2011-2012 by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy

Detail of the dress Zuzanna, Haute Couture A/W 2011-2012 by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy

The first dress, Zuzanna, Haute Couture A/W 2011-2012 is a work of curled goose feathers in appliqué on white pony skin, with pearl embroidery and appliqué of ostrich feathers, and the silk skirt is embroidered with lace and ostrich feathers. The detail in the backside of the dress is a fine example of the métier of haute couture, especially in combination with the belt in gilded pony skin and stingray, through which the curled feathers are woven.

Dress Copaifera by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy Haute Couture A/W 2010-2011 at Birds of Paradise, MoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Monica Ho

Dress Copaifera by Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy Haute Couture A/W 2010-2011 at Birds of Paradise, MoMu – Fashion Museum Antwerp, Photo: Monica Ho

Another example of the mix of handwork and new technology in a couture outfit is the second Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci silhouette, Copaifera, Haute Couture Autumn-Winter 2010–2011, in which a long dress in silk tulle is hand-dyed in a gradient and embroidered with ostrich feathers and laser cut leather lace panels. The long jacket with embroidery of fine bands of leather is an incredibly detailed work of couture ateliers that results in a contemporary, modern structure.

Both silhouettes exude luxury, elegance and are pristine examples of the contemporary fusion of creative vision with age-old couture crafts.

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