If given the opportunity to explore an empty museum, how would you fill the space? This is the question that inspired Christian Wijnants’ Fall/Winter 2021 collection as he was given unique access to the Antwerp Royal Museum of Fine Arts, a place that has been so dear to him. Over the past 10 years, the museum has been closed for renovations, only previewing its restored 19th century structure and newly constructed minimalist addition to Christian, inviting him to fill the grandiose rooms and hallways with his creations. A poetic moment for the designer who first visited the museum as a student on the brink of his career, beginning his to-become namesake’s brand connection to art. However, this time, as the museum sits empty, Christian relied on his memories and vision to fill the space and walls that once held the same Flemish Primitives and Baroque paintings that have inspired him today.
The silhouettes are exaggerated, full of volume, designed to physically fill the oversized rooms and elongated, just like the art that used to hang on the walls and doors that welcome you in. There is a down cape and complimenting puffed bags that wrap around you like a blanket providing the feeling of safety and warmth, cocoon coats designed to appear as though they are cut out of woolen blankets, and peasant shapes that draw from medieval underpinnings. Heavy wool fabric is draped into skirts and swept by fringe, like a curtain grazing the old wooden floors. The knitwear brings in a Bicolor Plissé dress and the ottoman stitch, utilized as stripes. A long-sleeve floor length dress is styled with a down scarf worn as a hat, materializing the old paintings that stood out in Christian’s memory
Floral patterns feel like an ancient tapestry, overdyed and overlarge. Stripes are inspired by the chevron wood floors throughout the museum, construed in various ways, from quite fine lines cutting diagonally on down jackets and lengthening dresses to magnified stripes seen as a two-tone knit. The colors are strategically chosen to reflect the feeling of exploring the various rooms, misty yet bright and historic, but refreshed. It consists of cooler hues such as antique pink, mint, fresh lime, and pistachio, paired with warmer tones such as emerald, bronze and rust.
The hair is imperfect and reminiscent of historic times, a young girl’s modernized adaptation of the medieval knots and curls she has only seen in paintings and make-up is tonal and blurred, imagined to be misconstrued as just the reflection of the green walls. The Fall/Winter 2021 collection comes to life in the collection film, allowing you to explore Christian’s vision, hear the echo of footsteps wandering the space and escape to a feeling of serenity that being in an empty museum provides.
Makeup: Inge Grognard
Hair: Ed Moeland
Photography: Lennert Madou
Backstage Photography: Klaartje Lambrechts
Video: Erik Peiren
Music: Senjan Jansen
Models: Britt Ensink
Laura Meier Hagestad
Sponsor: L’Oréal Paris
About Christian Wijnants
Christian Wijnants is a Belgian fashion designer praised for its vibrant colors, artisanal knitwear and rich graphics.
Christian Wijnants graduated in 2000 from the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. His graduation collection won the Dries Van Noten Award and was awarded the Grand Prix at the prestigious Festival Hyères.
After working for Dries Van Noten and Angelo Tarlazzi, Christian launched his own eponymous label in 2003. His feminine, poetic collections are available in luxury department stores and boutiques around the world. Over the years, Christian Wijnants has been recognized with many prestigious awards, such as the Swiss Textiles Award (2005), the ANDAM Fashion Award (2006) and the International Woolmark Prize (2013).
In 2015, Christian opened his first flagship store in Antwerp: a unique place that celebrates the designer’s love of nature, art, and architecture. Four years later in 2019, he successfully debuted his first menswear collection.