The art of parties and beyond

Flanders Fashion Institute, Antwerp

Though small in number, the seventeen graduating fashion students of Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts could hardly have bigger futures. Here's why. First, consider the school's alumni, a renowned bunch that counts Martin Margiela, Walter Van Beirendonck, Peter Pilotto and Veronique Branquinho. Second, if you can find a copy at better bookstores, leaf through +ONE, a slick collaborative magazine that paired each of the grads with a big wig of Belgian design (though not necessarily grads of the university), including Dries Van Noten, Raf Simons, Haider Ackermann and Ann Demeulemeester. And finally, for the clincher, take a look at these backstage images of the Academy's graduation group show. Always a kaleidoscopic swirl of shapes and colors, the event this year took on an even more international dimension, thanks to a wider cross-section of students from places like Japan, South Korea and former Soviet republics. Those hailing from European states seemed to stick with androgyny, nods to punk and deliciously tasteless styling. Stand-outs for us were Koji Arai's intricate lace skirts worn with Pinocchio hats and clown boots; the square-dance-ready dresses of Berivan Meyer, whose Western-themed collection was shown to a Dolly Parton soundtrack that got the audience bouncing; the Siouxsie-esque black and red corset dresses of Hanne De Wyngaert; the London skyline of Mikio Sakabe's sculptural shirts, ties, coats and capes; and, finally, Johanna Trudzinski's jumpers that, to Ben Harper's 'I Can Change the World with My Two Own Hands,' summed up the feeling of the night: this is the future of fashion. -Veerle Windels

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