THE BELGIAN BRIGADE
PARIS — If they ever decided to stage their own fashion week back home, the problem of an overcrowded collections schedule here would virtually be resolved. There are so many Belgians who show in Paris that the Antwerp fashion academy organizes chauffeur service between their presentations. What also brings them together is a spirit that blends creativity with commercialism.
Veronique Leroy, a Belgian who lives in Paris, is on a hot streak. Spring was one of her strongest collections in seasons, and she topped herself for fall. Her silhouettes were baggy, but sexy, as in high-waisted pants worn with suspenders. Cargo pants came in gray and black plaid and were paired with oversized blousons.
Angelo Figus may not be Belgian — he actually hails from Sardinia — but he lives in Antwerp. He turned in a fine, romantic effort with a Surrealistic twist — he used shoes for hats a la Elsa Schiaparelli. He cut his voluminous coats like three-dimensional constructions and showed fetching shirts with the fabric twisted into geometric patterns. Jean Paul Knott displayed his draping talents once again this season. He wrapped dresses around the body in intriguing ways, as in a sheath dress slyly attached to the leg or another held up with a leather neck strap.
Newcomer Haider Ackerman turned in a solid performance. He favored elongated silhouettes, such as ruched wool pants shown with crisscross-detailed shirts. Also noteworthy: the intricate knits and a lattice leather blouson.
Jurgi Persoons, another Antwerp designer, gets high marks for presentation. Some of his models posed on a staircase as if for a high-school class photo, while others, dressed as schoolboys, bounced basketballs or jumped rope. His trademark arts-and-crafts pieces — such as knits with shredded pieces of chiffon — and his tartan skirts were in fine form.
Jose Enrique Ona Selfa was also true to form. Ona Selfa’s aesthetic takes bourgeois elements and makes them a little modern. This time he featured such looks as a skirt with a kick-out hem and good-looking, high-collared coats.
Meanwhile, Bruno Pieters, who has presented two couture collections in Paris, showed ready-to-wear for the first time this season. Pieters is one to watch. He paired tracksuit trousers with big skirts and slouchy sweaters. The work was intricate, even if the silhouettes weren’t new.
Tim Van Steenbergen, another newcomer this season, didn’t do a show. He presented a video of his clothes instead and featured some couture-worthy dresses in a museum exhibit. Van Steenbergen, who has worked with Olivier Theyskens, managed to blend the artsy and commercial with a deft hand.