PARIS — Among new labels blossoming on the Antwerp, Belgium, scene — making its global launch today on Net-a-porter — is Bernadette, a high-end, ready-to-wear brand founded by mother-and-daughter duo Bernadette and Charlotte De Geyter.
The feminine dress-centric label specializes in boudoir-inspired silhouettes with bright botanical prints designed by Charlotte De Geyter, who after graduating with a master’s from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and scooping the MoMu Award, turned down a job at a renowned Italian label to concentrate on introducing the line.
The charming interiors of her family home — an ivy-clad country dwelling in the outskirts of Antwerp — fed her obsession with color, she said. She and her mother can go through 50 strike-offs to achieve the right hue, often pushing color to neon intensities.
“My mother and I are very close, we’ve always been best friends. I can draw a print, and then I go and sit next to her and she gives me tons of color combinations,” said the designer, whose personal hand in print design and illustration, honed while studying fashion under Walter Van Beirendonck and Dirk Van Saene, drives the collection. The motifs are whittled down from “hundreds of drawings and paintings of flowers” that she then scans and transforms into the prints, working with a mix of hand-drawn and digital processes.
“I’m always inspired by nature,” said the designer, whose experience includes an internship at Simone Rocha in London.
Bernadette De Geyter, whom the label with its “old school” ring is named after, used to be a buyer for Ralph Lauren and has her own knitwear label: Made by Bernadette. She’s never not been a passionate vintage collector. “I was always into fashion, but I was always searching for things I couldn’t find,” she said, describing how she and her daughter enjoy hunting for handmade vintage nightgowns and slips, “that we wear with big coats and boots.
“I keep it all in a room, and I always thought we have to do something with it. Charlotte had the idea of doing [boudoir-inspired pieces] to wear by day. We love the idea of bringing back the elegance of the past,” said De Geyter.
They started out last November with a soft launch of a small velvet-focused collection carried by two stores in Antwerp: Graanmarkt 13 and Renaissance. Highlights from the new silk and satin-based collection, meanwhile, include a rose-print dress in cream silk satin with an open back, kimono–inspired peignoirs and a long loose dress with pockets in cream crepe de chine with a pale floral print.
The Net-a-porter collection will roll out in three drops: two cruise installments and a spring 2019 delivery. A high summer collection will be presented to different buyers in December and January. Skirts start at 475 euros, with dresses going from 795 euros to 1,290 euros.
The label is produced by a Belgian manufacturer using Italian fabrics, which has factories in Romania.
With this idea of creating a wardrobe for women of any age, focusing on dresses felt natural, said Charlotte De Geyter. She’s 26, her mother is 53, and they both dress in pieces from the line. “We love the ease of it, that you can just throw it on and wear it for the day or night,” said the platinum-haired designer, who has been immortalized in some of the creations by her boyfriend, rising artist Ben Sledsens.