Here’s a little taste of what our master students will have on offer for SHOW2019, first up are Victor Wang, Quinten Mestdagh and Brandon Wen!

Victor Wang

Origin: China
Age: 28
Collection: Narcissus so himself, himself (men’s)

What was your starting point for the collection?
It’s based on the myth of Narcissus. It’s about a man who has the most beautiful face in the world. One day – it’s a long story – a girl falls in love with this man but he cannot return her love, so she wants to punish him. Then finally a god makes the man see his face reflected in the water and he doesn’t realise it’s his own face, and totally falling in love with himself. He becomes like a flower beside the water.

Why did you choose that story?
I thought that it was quite matched to my whole style and to the kind of project I hoped to do this year. I wanted to make an elegant unisex collection, combining the female and male image and working around this man with a really beautiful face. As I continued to develop it, I was also inspired by the movie Pink Narcissus. It’s a ‘70s film based on the Narcissus story but presenting it in a different way relating to gay culture in a beautiful erotic fantasia. So my whole collection is very much about that. While it’s not that related, I’m also touching on the painter Francis Bacon. He did a lot of paintings of his boyfriend watching himself in front of a mirror, and always with nude bodies. I wanted to add this dark romanticism of Bacon into my collection.

Quinten Mestdagh

Origin: Belgium
Age: 23
Collection: Default by bliss (women’s)

What was your initial approach to creating your collection?
When I started this year I did a lot of research on materials and techniques used in a fashion context, and different aesthetics. The idea was to find a technique and an aesthetic that had nothing to do with each other but had a connection visually. An important departure point was working with mother-of-pearl buttons, which come from the Pearly Kings and Queens of London. They’re a working-class group in the UK and every year they parade on the streets in their hand-embroidered jackets with these mother-of-pearl buttons. The style is a bit folkloric but there’s also a lot of religious symbolism connecting to their culture. The interesting thing is that it’s always clothes with a black background and white dots on top. It was an aesthetic that seemed to have something in common with graphic bitmaps, which are these lattices of dots that create an image that you can read. I liked the idea of translating something that is only used in one kind of context into another context that’s much more calculated and graphic, and has a different feeling.

The idea is really finding the contrast or the similarity between a technique and an aesthetic and merging them to get a new outcome. There’s the whole part with the buttons, but also this whole element based around these very bourgeois ‘madame’ scarves, which are almost like a status symbol when you study fashion. They’re always silk-screened and there’s a symmetrical composition, but my idea was to translate them digitally. So instead of a hand-drawn image of chains, they’re all digital prints actually. I like to mistranslate the aesthetic a bit by using the ‘wrong’ sort of symbols that you would never normally associate with such a chic scarf, the idea being to make it a bit more street and fun.

Is that a criticism of how these elements get used in the fashion field?
Maybe not a criticism, because it’s not that I dislike these things, but more that I really want to work with very recognisable styles or aesthetics, and then when you look closer there’s something off about it. My collection is all things that I just like a lot, and then the challenge is how to push them so that they become both you and new somehow despite having already been so defined and used for ages in a certain way. How can you give something that extra twist? It’s basically about the fun of connecting visuals: I’m a visual person and I always work with mood boards because I really need to connect dots, just to get something new out of things.

Brandon Wen

Origin: US
Age: 26
Collection: Brandwerpen (men’s)

Tell us about your collection!
Last year was very overwhelming so I came into this one still dealing with a lot of emotions. I wanted what I do with the collection to be a reflection of that chaos, and hopefully to help me figure out what’s going on by going through all of it and taking it apart mentally. It’s about starting with chaotic things and chaotic materials and making something very refined and beautiful.

I’ve been studying for a very long time now and I’m going off to work. There’s this frustration at having to grow up and deal with things on a different level. Another thing on my mind was that I really like this idea of making unwearable ‘high-art’ fashion, but I’ve tried to be more realistic when it comes to bodies this year, while still keeping some fantasy. It’s the same as going into the real world and leaving the student thing – how you continue to live the fantasy but grounded in reality.

In the beginning I was using really trashy things and it wasn’t working so eventually I scrapped that and started using nice materials. There were a few fabrics I did where the textiles were just cut and sewn almost like I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing. When you look at the piece you see this image, but actually up close it’s just pieces of scrap fabric. A lot of the pieces or details were just cut and pinned without planning like this. And then not changed to fit perfectly. For me that was what the chaos was, and I think in the end it does look refined, even if the process wasn’t! 

Don’t forget you can also take a closer look at each master’s collection in detail at EXPO2019!

Read the full conversation in our official magazine available at the show.
♥ to Nico Dockx for the interviews & Oona Oikkonen for the master portraits