AF Vandevorst Creates a Summer Celebration for the Spring Runway

AF Vandevorst Spring 2013 Runway
(Courtesy AF Vandevorst)

When you go to an AF Vandevorst show, you can expect to see lots of leather, attitude, and a rock ’n’ roll edge. This trio was present in the label’s spring 2013 collection. But husband and wife design duo An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx made moves towards a more sophisticated and, perhaps, refined AF woman. The first clue to this fact was the show’s location. In seasons past, the pair has chosen dark, industrial expanses that one would expect for a typical runway romp. This season, however, the collection was debuted in a gilded salon in the Hôtel France-Amérique. And it proved to be the perfect setting for AF Vandevorst’s ornate spring looks. First came models clad in leather pants, T-shirt dresses, and, in one instance, a full black leather bustled gown. Sheer opera gloves embellished with crystals had a luxe henna effect. And light, seemingly netted black fedoras, tipped just so, hid models’ faces, creating an air of mystery.

The designers’ Bell Epoque inspiration was evident in both black and gold or crème-on-crème brocades, as well as the gold body paint that covered the girls (one model walked out wearing nothing but spray-paint on her chest and pair of white pants). Details like leather belts with as many as six buckles that cinched the waist and cascaded down the hips, as well as long tails that fluttered on a-symmetrical goddess-draped jackets, felt modern and mildly dangerous. But, as it often happens, the best look was easily the simplest — a crisp white floor length shirtdress with slits down the arms that was shown with a no-nonsense gold belt. An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx spoke with ARTINFO about their spring woman, painting girls gold, and the new collection.

What was the concept behind your collection this season?

Filip: It was a continuation of the woman we showed last season. For winter, she was more introverted, more covered. This season, we wanted to unveil the woman, to show a little more of what happens inside. We wanted to show her sensitivity. Our winter girl was kind of in mourning. But now she wants to embrace summer. She’s proud, happy, and excited.

An: She want’s to celebrate summer.

Filip: So she dresses up. She knows that every ray of sun is something to celebrate.

Can you speak a bit about the materials and techniques we saw in the collection?

An: What was very important was that we started with the idea of dressing up. And when you dress up, you choose the best clothes in your closet. So we showed a lot of tailored pieces. And if you take a look at a tailored piece, the inside is as beautiful as the outside. It’s not that you wear something upside down or inside out, it’s just that the workmanship of the inside of a garment is so beautiful. That’s what we showed. We used this technique on the outside. We also contrasted very fluid feminine fabrics and crisp white cotton.

Why did you choose this space?

An: We wanted to have a more intimate atmosphere. And we wanted to show in a pretty place. Not just a catwalk. In the old days, when people dressed up, they went to salons or dinners to have conversations. We wanted to recreate that.

Why did you paint the models gold? And could you explain the role of the topless model we saw?

An: Because she’s embracing the summer. She wants to celebrate summer so she decorates herself. She is a woman with a twist. It’s not about jewelry or golden chains and rings. It’s more subtle than that. It’s about her skin. On one hand, she covers herself up but this covering is so bright that it attracts.