Fashion 101: 6 things you don't know about the Antwerp Six

It's the first of our Fashion 101 series and let's talk about the Antwerp Six.
Reading time 3 minutes

It was 1986 and Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dirk Van Saene and Marina Yee from The Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp travelled across Europe all the way to the British Designer Show in London in a van. 

The six presented their collection on the top floor of a building and found that no buyers were going to them because all the bigger designers were showing on the first floor.

The next day, they then started to distribute flyers to promote themselves, and it was the third day they had all the buyers and press in the showroom and made their collection to Barney's and Liberty.

That was the beginning of the Antwerp Six.

Now, even 30 years later, people still couldn't stop reminiscing about the legendary six who brought Belgian-root fashion to global fame and how they trailblazed the way for their junior designers like Raf Simons, Haider Ackerman, Kris Van Assche and Demna Gvasalia.

So, let us take you on a little tour to find out a little more about the six fashion poets:

  1. The six were given the title 'Antwerp Six' at the British Designer Show in 1986 because the press had had a hard time pronouncing their name.
  2. Martin Margiela is the unofficial member of the group, and people call them as the Antwerp Six + 1; Margiela didn't follow the group to London at the time but he is still the key member of the graduating class with the rest.
  3. Walter Van Beirendonck was invited to teach at his alma mater four years after graduating. The guru has personally taught Raf Simons and Kris Van Assche during their time at the academy. 
  4. Dries Van Noten's eponymous brand had been completely independent for 30 years (until last June 2018, where he sold major stakes to Puig, a Spanish luxury group) with over than 100 women's and men's collections.
  5. Ann Demeulemeester wears only what she designs, except a pair of Levi's 501s that she wears for her gardening session.
  6. The other half of the six chose to continue their talent and passion outside the spotlight due to their resistance to the fashion (business) system.

    Dirk Bikkembergs is running his label with women's, men's and kids collection, Dirk Van Saene just held an exhibition of his ceramic works last year in Vienna, while Marina Yee expands her talent to theatre costume design.

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