In Antwerp, Royal Academy of Fine Arts Students Wear Their Art to Class

Style Statement
Cezary Zalit

The fashion department at Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious fashion design programs in the world. With a reputation for instilling an avant garde sensibility and high standards of creative excellence, the institution has an impressive alumni to match, like Martin Margiela, Demna Gvasalia, and Kris van Assche, as well as the infamous Antwerp Six that include Ann Demeulemeester and Dries van Noten.

“The freedom and one-to-one way of tutoring, as well as placing importance on storytelling, is what I love about Antwerp,” says former student and Antwerp Six member Walter Van Beirendonck, who is currently the academy’s head of fashion. “We believe in the power of creativity, and that it can make a difference.”

At the end of September, schools and universities in Belgium reopened their doors with social-distancing precautions in place. But less than a month later, after photographing this story, the entire country went into its second lockdown. Here, the students share their experiences of remote coursework and virtual tutorials, as well as how it felt physically returning to the Academy (albeit for one month only) and, of course, what they wore to mark the momentous occasion.

Laura Meier Hagested, 24, BA fashion, year two

Laura Meier Hagested
Laura Meier HagestedRobin Joris Dullers
I’m wearing a vintage Prada skirt, a Walter Van Beirendonck sweater, vintage Gucci boots, my boyfriend’s Celine coat, and my jewelry is vintage except the rabbit ring, which is by the Danish designer Olga Bonne.

What do you love about your university?

I’m being guided and pushed, but, at the same time, set free to do what I never thought I’d be able to do.

How did it feel to be temporarily back at university?

It really made a difference to physically see everyone. Presenting your work in person gives a different kind of satisfaction.

What were some challenges of doing coursework remotely?

It was challenging to feel enthusiastic about my own work. I am very analogue, so designing for the camera does not interest me.

Byron Wang, 20, BA fashion, year one

Chen Ting Wang Byron

Describe your look.

I’m wearing a navy blue double-breasted suit with a white ruched jabot shirt, black and white straight-leg trousers, and a pair of white leather boots.

What do you love about your university?

Antwerp Academy is full of history and heritage, and it’s cultivated brilliant artists and designers while upholding tradition and craftsmanship.

What were some challenges of doing coursework remotely?

With digital presentations, people can’t really feel that sensation of any fabric, as fashion requires physical contact. I think we will figure it out one day though.

What song sums up your 2020?

Yves Montand’s Les Feuilles Mortes.

Cezary Zalit, 22, BA fashion, year three

Cezary Zalit
Cezary ZalitRobin Joris Dullers

Describe your look.

I’m wearing a white shirt that I made for an assignment a while ago, a black pleated skirt made out of fabric scraps, asymmetrical earrings, and a thrifted long black coat.

What do you love about your university?

I love the freedom of artistic expression, alongside the understanding approach of the teachers.

What were some challenges of doing coursework remotely?

Obtaining materials, as non-essential vendors such as fabric and stationery stores were all shut.

What song sums up your 2020?

My entire year could be summed up with just a single song: K by Cigarettes After Sex.