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From “Gallant little Belgium” to “Elegant little Belgium”- the creation and marketing of fashions from that flat country

From “Gallant little Belgium” to “Elegant little Belgium”- the creation and marketing of fashions from that flat country
From “Gallant little Belgium” to “Elegant little Belgium”- the creation and marketing of fashions from that flat country
Since the early 1980s the fashion press has cooed over Belgian fashion, more specifically the Antwerp 6 the now quasi mythical group of designers that emerged from the Antwerp Academy in 1980-81, and the subsequent generations of their creative 'siblings'. The Antwerp designers quickly became a new 'fashion set', known as the '6' (because the foreign press was incapable of pronouncing their names) and the movement/creative strand became known as Belgian Fashion. Belgian Fashion came to symbolize a material and ideological alternative to mainstream fashion, and was described by the press, and later academics, through terms such as 'intellectual', 'deconstructed', 'anti-fashion' and the coveted fashion nirvana 'individual'. The Distinction potential was established not merely through the fashions but more so through the designers' dealings with the press, Belgian cultural agents and the international press's desire for novelty and the 'Alternative'.

To the rest of the world this fashion coven was a coherent representation of a Belgian identity carefully constructed and staged by all vested parties. Not since "Gallant Little Belgium" had such a convincing and well-known package of Belgium been put forward. To many, Belgian fashion was their first veritable introduction to that place they had only "driven through". Here was a sleek, interesting, polished, intellectual identity for Belgian fashion, and in extent Belgium- which could and would be sold to the rest of the world. Within Belgium however it laid bare the Issue of Belgium, its divided nature and its inherent lack of a cohesive national identity.

Invented and created in London in 1830, Belgium and in extent Belgian National identity is an oddity. Unlike most modern European nations it was not created through ethnic separationist movements but through the intervention of foreign powers who needed a convenient buffer zone. Since its creation Belgium has struggled to reconcile, with increasingly less success, its incohesion and fragmented ethnic, political, social agents.

Belgium has had its identity constructed through the eyes of Other or imposed from the outside since its inception, its concurrent efforts to carve out a National Identity for itself hampered by ethnic, political and language divides. Belgian Fashion is part of this narrative of imposition and failure.

This paper will thus investigate how "Belgian fashion" was created and marketed both within and outside of Belgium, but its overall aim is to attempt to establish a definition for Belgian fashion. Whilst the term is so accepted, batted about by the media, anno 2011 a minor fashion cliché, I wish to argue that it has multiple definitions all problematic and all with their own unique agenda.

Belgian fashion the extremely popular and marketable cohesive identity purchasable in boutiques the world over or a plaster to cover interior fragmentation?
Dirix, Emmanuelle
81b6957e-e128-418d-bd59-77e13ae94de7
Dirix, Emmanuelle
81b6957e-e128-418d-bd59-77e13ae94de7

Dirix, Emmanuelle (2011) From “Gallant little Belgium” to “Elegant little Belgium”- the creation and marketing of fashions from that flat country. Trans/National Clothing: Production & Consumption, United Kingdom. 01 - 04 Sep 2011. 6 pp .

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

Since the early 1980s the fashion press has cooed over Belgian fashion, more specifically the Antwerp 6 the now quasi mythical group of designers that emerged from the Antwerp Academy in 1980-81, and the subsequent generations of their creative 'siblings'. The Antwerp designers quickly became a new 'fashion set', known as the '6' (because the foreign press was incapable of pronouncing their names) and the movement/creative strand became known as Belgian Fashion. Belgian Fashion came to symbolize a material and ideological alternative to mainstream fashion, and was described by the press, and later academics, through terms such as 'intellectual', 'deconstructed', 'anti-fashion' and the coveted fashion nirvana 'individual'. The Distinction potential was established not merely through the fashions but more so through the designers' dealings with the press, Belgian cultural agents and the international press's desire for novelty and the 'Alternative'.

To the rest of the world this fashion coven was a coherent representation of a Belgian identity carefully constructed and staged by all vested parties. Not since "Gallant Little Belgium" had such a convincing and well-known package of Belgium been put forward. To many, Belgian fashion was their first veritable introduction to that place they had only "driven through". Here was a sleek, interesting, polished, intellectual identity for Belgian fashion, and in extent Belgium- which could and would be sold to the rest of the world. Within Belgium however it laid bare the Issue of Belgium, its divided nature and its inherent lack of a cohesive national identity.

Invented and created in London in 1830, Belgium and in extent Belgian National identity is an oddity. Unlike most modern European nations it was not created through ethnic separationist movements but through the intervention of foreign powers who needed a convenient buffer zone. Since its creation Belgium has struggled to reconcile, with increasingly less success, its incohesion and fragmented ethnic, political, social agents.

Belgium has had its identity constructed through the eyes of Other or imposed from the outside since its inception, its concurrent efforts to carve out a National Identity for itself hampered by ethnic, political and language divides. Belgian Fashion is part of this narrative of imposition and failure.

This paper will thus investigate how "Belgian fashion" was created and marketed both within and outside of Belgium, but its overall aim is to attempt to establish a definition for Belgian fashion. Whilst the term is so accepted, batted about by the media, anno 2011 a minor fashion cliché, I wish to argue that it has multiple definitions all problematic and all with their own unique agenda.

Belgian fashion the extremely popular and marketable cohesive identity purchasable in boutiques the world over or a plaster to cover interior fragmentation?

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: 3 September 2011
Venue - Dates: Trans/National Clothing: Production & Consumption, United Kingdom, 2011-09-01 - 2011-09-04
Organisations: Winchester School of Art

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 196883
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/196883
PURE UUID: abac1292-da3f-4d5e-8f54-545a6fe1fc57

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 15 Sep 2011 08:56
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:21

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Contributors

Author: Emmanuelle Dirix

University divisions

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