Event, Exhibition

Game Changers: Opening Night!

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Dennis Ravays

Photo: MoMu Antwerp / Dennis Ravays

17th March was the day: Opening night of our newest exhibition ‘Game Changers. Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette’. All images can be enjoyed on our Facebook page!

You can now catch a glimpse of the opening night of our Game Changers exhibition! More videos on our Vimeo Channel!

Behind the scenes, Exhibition

Human Sanctuary, teaser

For our Game Changers expo, MoMu collaborated with photographer Daniel Sannwald to create a holographic video that puts the human body at the centre stage of Game Changers.

In a choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (Eastman) and featuring a selection of Balenciaga archive pieces combined with pieces by other designers, it unites masters of the past and present in exclusive artistic production. The choreography united the garments with the bodies of Belgian model Hannelore Knuts, her son and the dancer.

Game Changers. Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette: 18|03|2016 – 14|08|2016

Exhibition

Rethinking the Body: Comme des Garçons and Georgina Godley

 “Not what has been seen before, not what has been repeated, instead, new discoveries that look towards the future, that are liberated and lively.” Press release Comme des Garçons 1997

Comme des Garçons, ‘Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body’ spring/summer 1997. Photo: Yannis Vlamos

Comme des Garçons, ‘Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body . Spring/summer 1997. Photo: Yannis Vlamos

Recently, MoMu acquired an original spring-summer 1997 Comme des Garçons dress, from the emblematic ‘Body Meets Dress’ collection by Rei Kawakubo at the Didier Ludot Paris auction. It will be featured in the Game Changers exhibition after it has gone through a thorough restoration by Kim Verkens, MoMu’s restorator who has brought many masterpieces back to life.

Comme des Garçons, ‘Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body, prototype, spring/summer 1997 Dress in jersey, manmade fibre. Photo: Stanny Van Dederen

Comme des Garçons, ‘Body Meets Dress, Dress Meets Body, prototype, spring/summer 1997 Dress in jersey, manmade fibre. Photo: Stanny Van Dederen

The padded, lumpy dresses and jackets (the collection was nicknamed Lumps n Bumps and even Quasimodo by the press) heralded, right at the turn of the 20th century, a new image in which the body and garment became one. The body, which had been released from the corset in the 20th century, and was since moved around freely in  an autonomous garment, now became fused with the outside world, Rei Kawakubo bridged the gap between the person and the surrounding space. Notoriously sparse, she called the collection ‘rethinking the body’, dismissing the dark interpretations of critics who saw a ‘woman who carries the weight on her shoulders’ in the arched backsides and the use of “housewife” gingham fabrics in pastel colors. Choreographer Merce Cunningham, who used the collection in his ‘Scenario’ production, explained the shapes with a more friendly, familiar eye : “the lumps are familiar shapes we can see every day, a bike messenger with a bag over the shoulder, a tourist with fanny pack, a baby on a mother’s arm.”  Art critics have  linked these dresses to the work of Surrealist artists like Hans Bellmer, Salvador Dalí or fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

Georgina Godley Lump and Bump Autumn/Winter 1986  Asymmetric padded underwear white cotton Lycra with polyester filling. Photography by Cindy Palmano

Georgina Godley Lump and Bump Autumn/Winter 1986
Asymmetric padded underwear white cotton Lycra with polyester filling.
Photography by Cindy Palmano

Similarly, the work of Georgina Godley, a British artist and former fashion designer, escapes the representation of the female body as either sexy/ sexless: in the 1980s, she did not want to choose between deconstructed, shapeless garments or the power silhouettes with broad shoulders. She also did not share the 1980s beauty ideals of a fit, muscular and hard physique for women in order to show their power. Godley opted for the ‘third way’: worshipping the female body through the use of soft, padded curves and exaggerated arches and hoops on her dresses. Her inspiration came both from African fertility goddesses as well as the women of Vermeer. She celebrates femininity without making the female body into a symmetrical, passive object. Her use of padding to  create bumps in unexpected zones, the zig-zagging looped hems and dilated curves could be seen as a feminist answer to the mostly masculine tradition of Surrealism.

Behind the scenes, Exhibition

Last touches on Game Changers!

Naamloos-4

Last touches on this ‘Horn of the Plenty’ AW 2009 – 2010 dress! Game Changers expo opens this Friday!

Collection

Working with the MoMu/UA studycollection: Making A Replica

Blouse (ca. 1900)

Inventory number: 80226

Materials and techniques: Silk; Lace

A replica can have many advantages within the museum context. For example: an exact reconstruction of an object, made using the original stitches and decoration techniques, can show visitors and researchers how these techniques were applied in the past. In doing so, the original object can also be studied without the damaging manipulation of many hands. Within the context of the University and the study collection, the making of a replica is a good way to learn how to manipulate an original object very carefully in order to take patterns. By looking at the object so carefully and with so much attention, and by executing the replica, great insight can be gained into historical techniques and costume in general.

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

Exhibition

Cristobal Balenciaga. Iconoclastic Visions of the Silhouette

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Autumn/Winter 1958. Balloon-shaped cocktail dress.

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Autumn/Winter 1958. Balloon-shaped cocktail dress.

Balenciaga sculpts, paints, writes in the act of making dresses. That is why he is above the others. To create dresses, beginning endlessly over and over again with the same model,
the body, is to choose incessantly, without respite. As we breathe in order to live. To choose is to help the formless to breathe, to give life to what is unborn. In this, Balenciaga is supreme. Violette Leduc, Vogue, 1965

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Spring/Summer 1962. Evening coat in gazar.

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Spring/Summer 1962. Evening coat in gazar.

By the 1960s, Balenciaga’s work had already bathed itself in an aura of perfection, and timelessness, drawing constant comparisons to various art forms, such as the ones Leduc cited with such devout enthusiasm. Indeed, the progressive refinement of construct and form found in Balenciaga’s creations throughout the 1950s, as well as the abstraction increasingly found in his radical designs of the 1960s, placed him at the heart of the debate around whether fashion could be considered art. There is no doubt that – like some vital sartorial epilogue – certain designs in his last collections, in 1967 and 1968, did take on architectural qualities and an unprecedented degree of independence with regard to the body, becoming genuine icons of twentieth-century fashion history.

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Spring/Summer 1967. Wedding gown in gazar.

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Spring/Summer 1967. Wedding gown in gazar.

These designs were the culmination of a long and productive career based on technical perfection and experimentation with form. Profoundly influenced by the technical achievements and iconoclastic spirit of the fashion innovators of the 1910s and 1920s – from Vionnet to Chanel – Balenciaga dedicated himself to the unremitting task of establishing a new relationship between body and garment, offering women an alternative silhouette at the height of the New Look furore. The cocoon silhouette launched in 1942 and perfected in 1947, the tunic of 1955, the controversial and liberating “sack” dress presented in August 1957, or the chemise dress of the same collection, also popularized as the baby doll in 1958, all became hallmarks in Balenciaga’s career and icons of 20th century fashion. His designs contributed not only to the conception of alternative ideals about femininity, but they also offered women a new way of experiencing dress.

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Spring/Summer 1958. ‘Baby doll’ cocktail dress.

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Spring/Summer 1958. ‘Baby doll’ cocktail dress.

Balenciaga always seemed to think and design ahead of his own time, thus his collections were very often received coldly, even sceptically. The Tobé report of the A/W 1957 Paris couture collections tried to shed some light on the role Balenciaga played in the fashion world: Avant-garde movement in art and literature and all creative arts is finally becoming [a] recognized factor in fashions as well. This rightly so, as creation of fashion is a major art today. Therefore we can expect that there will probably always be some new avant-garde fashions from now on even after current examples of loose shift or chemise dresses have passed into history. Everyone – fashion editors, stylists, designers, manufacturers, must learn to recognize these when they appear and not judge them by old established standards. Granted they may be extreme and even ugly in first presentation, sooner or later some will make them pretty and wearable without changing their basic character. Dior has accomplished this with [the] shift silhouette two years after it was launched by Balenciaga […] who [is the] chief exponent of avant-garde fashions.

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Autumn/Winter 1964. Evening dress in gazar.

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Autumn/Winter 1964. Evening dress in gazar.

Shortly after Balenciaga unexpectedly decided to close his house in 1968, Paris was rocked by the arrival of a group of young Japanese designers ready to challenge established notions of beauty and femininity. Many critics thought then that what they were doing was turning fashion into art. Whether they knew it or not, Balenciaga’s spirit would live on through their work. Words by Miren Arzalluz 

Exhibition

We Are Closed!

momu gesloten

MoMu will be closed from 15 February until 17 March busy constructing the new exhibition Game Changers: Reinventing the 20th Century Silhouette. We will be back open on 18th March ready for another exhibition season! Hope to see you then!

 

Collection, Exhibition

Belgian Shoe Talent In The Picture: Tim Van Steenbergen

SAMSUNG CSC

MoMu and Flanders Fashion Institute have joined forces and are putting Belgian shoe talents in the picture! With MoMu’s ‘FootPrint – The Tracks of Shoes in Fashion’ exhibition and FFI’s #ikkoopbelgisch campaign, the collaboration between MoMu and FFI was the perfect match! Each week from 17th November to 14th February, different contemporary Belgian footwear brands will be displayed in the museum hall. Next up: Tim Van Steenbergen

SAMSUNG CSC

Tim Van Steenbergen graduated Magna cum Laude from the fashion department at the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Subsequently he took classes in drapery and couture techniques and was Oliver Theyskens’ assistant. His first collection was launched in 2001 in Paris and that same year he set up his company Mitzlavv. Meanwhile he’s up to his 23rd collection and the Tim Van Steenbergen collection is sold in the top designer boutiques all over the world. Since 2007, he has been desinging a seasonal collection for the Belgian shoe brand Ambiorix.

Collection, Exhibition

Working with the MoMu/UA Study Collection: Conservation of Shoes

 

Pumps/court-shoes (ca. 1900)

Inventory number: 81074

Materials and techniques: Silk; Cotton; Linen; Leather

The conservation treatment of shoes can be challenging for different reasons: shoes are small objects which hampers manipulations during conservation treatment; they consist of a diverse range of materials which are sometimes invisible and unreachable (therefore cleaning possibilities are limited); they are three-dimensional objects, ect. In this case, most of the weft of the silk satin weave was lost, leaving the cotton warp visible and loose.

To stabilize the damage, the warp was fixed upon the lining by couching, a common conservation stitch. To maintain their shape, soft silk cushions were made which easily slide in and out of the shoes. A box was made out of acid free cardboard, to preserve the shoes in storage. They are supported by cushions to prevent them from moving and falling.

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

 

Collection, Exhibition

Nina Ricci through the eyes of Olivier Theyskens. History, dance and a romantic view on femininity.

Photo by Stany Dederen

Nina Ricci by Oliver Theyskens, Summer 2009. Photo by Stany Dederen

The MoMu collection has more than doubled since its opening in 2002 due to donations or long term loans. Within the wide variety of new acquisitions, a returning theme caught the attention: the references to haute couture in the ready-to-wear collections. The MoMu Gallery provides a unique insight in the ready-to-wear silhouettes with a reference to haute couture made by Belgian designers including Olivier Theyskens who has made quite the impact on the fashion industry.

Olivier Theyskens’s tenure at Nina Ricci may have been short, he only had the chance to create five main collections, but it left no one in the fashion world untouched. After making the iconic fashion house of Marcel Rochas interesting again, he did the same for Nina Ricci. He reinterprets the tailored suits and romantic dresses of Nina Ricci, two types of silhouettes at which he excelled both at his own label and at Rochas, and transports them into the 21st-century. He does this without losing the essence of Nina Ricci’s personal style of being a highly romanticised form of femininity and takes this to the extreme, where his Nina Ricci women become fantastical creatures drenched in melancholy.

Nina Ricci and Olivier Theyskens share a mutual love for dance. Ricci expressed this in her designs by making her dresses extra light for women to be able to dance in them. But Theyskens goes one step further by already incorporating the movement in his designs. In his early Nina Ricci collections, this results in a certain asymmetry by transporting the spiralling lines of the iconic bottle of Ricci’s famous perfume, l’Air du Temps, on to the clothes. In his later collections, especially in the spring 2009 collection, he uses movement to contemplate on transiency by showing us an idea of a dress.

The dresses are thought of as short, but they all have a long train in the back because they each evolve their own shape. Theyskens slows time, and by doing so, he is able to show us movement in space. In his creations for Nina Ricci, Theyskens explores the fashion of the 1930s and early 1940s with its long and slender silhouette accompanied by slightly pronounced shoulders. This was a period in which Ricci was very active, and it feels only natural for Theyskens to explore this part of the house’s heritage. In his spring 2009 collection, he even goes further back in time. He revisits the historical inspiration for the 1930s and early 1940s fashion, being the fashion of the last decade of the 19th-century, with its slim skirts that fall wide open on the floor, and its gigantic leg-of-mutton sleeves.

It is only suitable for an exhibition on demi-couture to exhibit creations by Olivier Theyskens. His impeccable craftsmanship and eye for detail give his creations an aura and quality of haute couture. The fashion press labelled him a precursor of demi-couture in 2003, when he showed his first collection for the house of Rochas, but he has always been using techniques from haute couture in his creations, starting from his very first collection, the one for the spring 1998 season. His creations are only being denied the label of haute couture because he doesn’t want to be limited by a set of rules, which for him, mean stripping away of the magic and creativity of the art form.

Words by Frederik Vercammen who was an intern at the MoMu Collection Department from February until April 2014, and wrote his master’s thesis on the collected works of Olivier Theyskens during his studies of Art History at the Ghent University.