Izumi Hongo: Private Painting

The fashion department in Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts is in a league of its own. Established by Mary Prijot, the department has produced international superstars in the fashion industry; Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Bikkembergs, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Van Saene, Dries Van Noten and Maison Martin Margiela.

Their philosophy:

The fashion department of the Antwerp Academy sees fashion in the broadest sense of the word, as a form of expression of the emotions of our times. Clothing reflects society or, adversely, questions it. Fashion people are not a self-absorbed clique, but committed people who question prevailing concepts of ethics and aesthetics and take a stand for or against aggression, rejection, denial, helplessness. In fashion, there is a freedom of expression which can at times be shocking, alarming, astounding or tempting.

Indeed, in a system that encourages experimentation, improvisation and innovation, one can only think out of the box.

In the final year graduation show, I noticed that there were several designers whose collection had a “painting” theme. I was immediately skeptical about their inspiration but being graduates of this prestigious school, they do not disappoint.

I am not certain if Izumi Hongo’s Private Painting collection was inspired by paintings from private collections or paintings that she considered ‘private’. She could have been inspired by paintings that she felt were ‘private’ to the subject since these artworks were mainly portraits. Having your portrait taken evokes the same emotions as having your privacy invaded. For a few hours, you are not yourself, you are observed, studied and scrutinised so that you can take home a tangible evidence of your existence at the end of the day. Portrait painting is a sport for the rich and the insecure but Izumi has translated that into some whimsical and mythical. The enchanted quality is enhanced by the palette of colours and the treatment of fabric to look like they were painted.

Izumi’s final year collection is very different from her previous works.

(All images from www.antwerp-fashion.be)

They were once colourful, quirky and slightly anime inspired.

With this transformation, we see that Izumi has travelled back in time to the 16th century and waltz through a ballroom full of portraits. All of them women; beautiful yet fragile and lonely. As the oil paint on their portraits dry, so do their souls.

X Sybil

About fashionartisan
Bringing out the art in fashion

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