As tradition would have it we had front-row seats in June to admire the final projects of the various fashion courses. We went to take a look in Antwerp, Ghent and Sint-Niklaas and selected the most promising fashion designer in each course. A person with his or her own vision and creativity, a good dose of common sense and a commercial vision for his or her future as a fashion designer were our requirements.
Antwerp: Rushemy Botter
On 2 June, we headed out to Park Spoor Noord in Antwerp for a show with no fewer than eighteen master’s students. For us, Rushemy Botter stood out head and deconstructed shoulders with his 'Fish or Fight' collection. And we weren’t the only ones to think so: the master student with Curaçao roots won a tremendous five awards!
His collection illustrates the cultural clash that young people from the Dominican Republic experience when they come to the West. They use their outfits as a kind of armour to pass themselves off as stronger than their circumstances really allow. This is illustrated playfully with oversized layers, bright colour use, integration of logos and comic references to their days as islanders.
We chose Rushemy because all the ingredients are there to start a successful fashion label: a strong creative vision that he can translate commercially into his current collection and a positive and mature vision about his expectations. What’s more, he has a healthy desire to start up in Antwerp as his base of operations and he is assisted by a partner with a down-to-earth vision. That’s what we would call a recipe for success! In winning the Flanders DC Award, he earns a coveted place at the Summer School in Fashion Management course run by the Antwerp Management School.
Ghent: Bart Hoste
On 15 June, we set out for the Bijloke site in Ghent for the show put on by the masters of the KASK School of Arts. Bart Hoste won the Flanders DC Award.
His 'Instinct Extinct' collection has a clear “couture vibe” to it. It is characterised by a great deal of hand-sewing that includes embroidery in a mix of classical feminine silhouettes and modern sculptural forms. This young Ghent native did an apprenticeship with Iris van Herpen during his studies. During his master’s, Bart began to think increasingly about fashion as an industry, which strengthened his love of the artisanal. He dreams of working in Parisian ateliers of upscale brands, one day being able to put his own mark on this luxury segment.
This year, Bart was the only master student. Despite having seen a lot of talent among the bachelor students, we chose Bart because of his sophisticated collection that sparks the imaginations of women leaves them with a desire for more. In winning the Flanders DC Award, he earns a coveted place at the Summer School in Fashion Management course run by the Antwerp Management School.
Sint-Niklaas: Layla Suarez Torres
Last up were the master students of SASK in Sint-Niklaas on 17 June. Layla Suarez Torres from Brussels scooped up the Flanders DC Award with her 'Sweetest Taboo' collection.
With her collection she paid homage to her mother, her heroine, who grew up in a conservative Moroccan family. At the age of 17, she fell in love with a Spaniard and decided to leave her family. To this day, Layla sees her mother as an example of courage and perseverance. The collection is characterised by a mix of Moroccan and Spanish influences where men are embellished with pearls inspired by the orient and embroidered Spanish matador trousers. The result is a perfectly finished, contemporary collection with street influences.
She stood out like a beacon because she has translated this touching and contemporary story perfectly into a solid collection that looks mature and has commercial potential.