Belgian Everywhere in Intl' World of Fashion - ©Flanders Today
After waiting for the final word for quite some time, the final confirmation was still great news when Raf Simons signed his contract with the prestigious French fashion house Dior on Wednesday. During the next few years this Belgian will head both the ready-to-wear and high fashion collections and accessories range for ladies. Both the men's and ladies' collections will now be run by Belgians. Raf Simons will have to make his own waves to put John Galliano in the backsea , but Kris Van Assche knows the rules of the game as he succeeded Hedi Slimane earlier. Slimane made a radical break with the traditional male silhouette and his approach enjoyed considerable attention from the press, but unfortunately his collections did not sell that well. When he left Dior, Kris Van Assche faced the difficult task of sticking to Slimane’s modern approach while creating a more easy to wear and slightly more adult silhouette. The luxury holding group LVMH of Bernard Arnaut was obviously happy as Van Assche remained in his position for five years. In the meantime he also continued to create his own men’s collection. Van Assche completed his studies at the Antwerp Fashion Academy in 1998.

The face behind Chanel is big boss Karl Lagerfield, but he is backed by a team of creative designers within each division. In 2008 the Antwerp local Peter Philips was appointed to head the makeup division, which made him the brain behind each season’s new makeup colours. Philips graduated at the Antwerp fashion academy in 1993. It was not long before Lagerfield discovered the creative talent of Laetitia Crahay from Brussels when she headed the design studio of Brussels leather house Delvaux, and put her in charge of jewellery and accessories at Chanel's. Crahay studied styling at the Brussels college La Cambre and worked as art director for Olivier Theysken,s who amazed Paris with his first theatrical Gothic collection in 1997. After the artistic direction of Rochas and Nina Ricci, Theyskens produced a line for an American label and named it Theyskens’ Theory. Another Belgian who gained international acclaim is Olivier Rizzo, a stylist who graduated from the Antwerp fashion academy in 1993 and then went on to work closely with fellow student Willy Vanderperre, who later became a fashion photographer. In 2001 Marc Jacobs approached Rizzo to style a men’s show for Louis Vuitton. With the help of Vanderperre he casted the models and ended up staying with Vuitton as a consultant for three years before joining Dolce & Gabbana, Jil Sander and then Prada. Another well-known Flemish stylist is David Vandewal, who graduated from the Brussels fashion academy in 1992 and made a name for himself in New York, where he worked as a stylist on magazines like W Magazine, Interview, i-D and Vogue. He is currently on the permanent payroll of T, the style magazine of the New York Times.

Source: Flanders House, Flanders Today 04/16/12

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