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MoMu Fashion Museum in Antwerp

This blog features posts from the various departments at the MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp who share their insights on the Museum's working, exhibitions and projects. MoMu is located in the centre of the Antwerp fashion district. Every year, the museum organises two thematic exhibitions, along with workshops, guided tours,...
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Abraham photo studio

The Abraham Archive also houses 2,600 fashion plates. These tell us not only which couturiers worked with Abraham fabrics, but also what they did with them. What the plates also illustrate is how fashion photography, images of women, and ideals of beauty changed over the years.

The collection begins with black-and-white plates showing the extremely elegant models of the 1940s and 1950s and ends with the catwalk photos of the 1980s and 1990s. Among the photographers are the brothers Jean and Tom Kublin, Gian Paolo Barbieri, Willy Maywald, André Ostier–Heil, and Victor Scocozza.

Abraham in black and white

Black and white must be the most popular colour combination of all time. The interaction of positive and negative, the alternating dominance of black and white, the simplicity — the variety is astounding. Dots, circles, loops, and knotted lines are among the motifs that recur over the decades.

MoMu Award 2013 goes to Pierre Renaux

ach year the MoMu Fashion Museum presents a MoMu Award to a MA student at the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy in Antwerp. This award, to be presented during the jury proclamation in June, gives a single student the opportunity to present his or her collection in an exhibition at the MoMu Gallery. The MoMu Award is for a student whose course of study at the Royal Academy has been exceptionally motivating and whose work stands out in unique visual language. We are very proud to announce that the MoMu Award 2013 goes to Pierre Renaux!

Pierre Renaux was already thinking about his post-Academy future at the start of this collection, realizing this would be the ‘last time’ (at least for a while) where he could decide on every aspect of a collection by himself.

This brought him both anxiety and relief, because he knew he’d have to make a ‘tabula rasa’ when graduating from the academy, maybe even ultimately dissolving himself as a designer. Anticipating this scenario resulted in the ‘clearance sale’ or ‘everything must go’ principle, translated into a womenswear collection that shows garments that are in the middle of being ruined and/or dissolved.
At the basis is a businesswoman’s attire, the image of a cold, godlike, controlled woman, ‘the last woman standing’ of a company, a CEO who had to fight in order to say what she wanted to say, and who wears suits as rigid, armour-like garments. It is contemporary formal attire with a twist: the synthetic materials (neoprene, wax, plastic) are being distorted, twisted and appear to be melting or seem to consist of glass shards. They are mutating. Each silhouette contains the tension between a kind of cold-heartedness and more sensual shapes, between strength and softness. The woman is being protected against her environment by clothes that are both body-hugging and yet dissolving. Pierre Renaux doesn’t see this collection as a pessimistic statement about his own future, but rather as a realistic exercise through which he creates new, coincidental energy, in which he loses control in order to create space for something new to follow.
The tantalizing, futuristic shoes, are 3D-printed in Belgium, a première for the Antwerp catwalk!

MOMU AWARD 2013 Pierre Renaux
Liquidation Totale
From June 19th to August 11th at the MoMu Gallery
Free admission

Swatchbooks from Lyon

The swatchbooks featured in the exhibition ‘Silks & Prints from the Abraham Archive – Couture in Colour’ were produced in Lyon between 1830 to 1914. There are 227 of them in the Abraham Archive, all of them purchased by Gustav Zumsteg, who gave them a proud place on the company’s bookshelves. Adding them to the Abraham Archive was Zumsteg’s way of acknowledging Abraham’s indebtedness to the silk weavers of 19th-century Lyons.Since each book contain hundreds of swatches, collectively they resemble a vast treasure trove and were thus an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Abraham’s designers.

Clothing Eros Conference in Oxford

Sunday June 16th MoMu’s director Kaat Debo participated in the conference ‘Clothing Eros. The Erotic Potentials of Dress’, with a talk on sexuality and the body in the work of Walter Van Beirendonck. This two-day colloquium, organised by Denise Koller at Ertegun House – Oxford University, hosted talks by a.o. Barbara Vinken, Stella Bruzzi, Philipp Ekardt, Alistair O’Neill and Pamela Chruch Gibson.

Hubert de Givenchy & Abraham

The fashion plates of the winter collection 1956–57, preserved in the Abraham Archive, provide a graphic record of the early days of Hubert de Givenchy’s collaboration with Abraham Ltd.

The name of Givenchy, whose great hero and mentor was Cristóbal Balenciaga, has become inextricably linked to two of the women he clothed: Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy, both of whom were icons
of elegance.

Abraham scrapbooks

The twenty scrapbooks compiled between 1947 and 1996 are full of information about fashion, textiles, and of course Abraham Ltd.

Any mention of the company in the press was carefully cut out and pasted in, thus affording us a wonderfully intimate glimpse into the world of Abraham and how it perceived itself. The pleasure the compilers took in designing the scrapbooks is evident on every page, just as the zeitgeist shines through not only in the cuttings, but in the lay-out, too.

Variations by the 1st Bachelor students of the Antwerp Fashion Department

It’s that time of the year of the Fashion Department’s graduation shows!

Until June 16th you still have the opportunity to admire the dress shape studies by the 1st Bachelor students (2012) from the Antwerp Fashion Department at MoMu Gallery.

The freshman year is composed around 3 principle artistic subjects. The most important course is ‘fashion design’. The other two principle courses are ‘graphic design’ and ‘tailoring/pattern design’.

For their first assignment in fashion design, students are required to produce a study of a skirt, which is subsequently executed in the ‘coupe’, or tailoring course. Their second assignment is the study and creation of a dress, which is produced in coloured poplin (a quality of cotton). the treatment and the various processes (pleating, folding, wrinkling, etc.) of the material, react according to the specific selection of fabric.

The design phase deals with the basic elements of the design process: line, form and volume, proportions, balance and rhythm, handling the material, movement, and the body in relation to design. In this assignment, the study of the sleeve, sometimes in combination with the collar, is particularly crucial. The emphasis usually lies on the dress as a form of apparel in relation to the body, rather than the dress as an object in itself.

For the student, conducting research is a very important part of developing his or her concept. students are first encouraged to study historical and ethnic designs. These pave the way to interesting studies of form, which will later prove essential in their future design trajectory.

The expo ‘VARIATIONS – Shape study of a dress‘ is free.

Cristobal Balenciaga & Abraham

Characteristic of Balenciaga’s creations is their sculpted, architectural quality. The perfect material for this was gazar, a crisp, semi-sheer etamine fabric that was a specialty of Abraham Ltd.

After struggling to adjust to the emergence of prêt-à-porter and slow but steady decline in the demand for haute couture, Cristóbal Balenciaga closed his fashion house in 1968. The label was relaunched by his nephews following his death in 1972 and is today still very successful.

Abraham Archives, a choice of over 700 fabrics

In 1955, Abraham Ltd. decided that “every season, four meters of each of the most beautiful five to ten articles will be cut off and preserved in a suitable form.” This collection of the most beautiful textiles was referred to inside the company as the ‘Museum’. By 1997, it contained 700 coupons or lengths of fabric and hence a representative cross-section of the company’s fabric designs. It is unusual for a textile company to collect samples of its own output as systematically as this.

Reopening Nationalestraat this Saturday!

This Saturday from 11AM until 5PM, the Nationalestraat and its shops celebrate the reopening of the street with a series of performances, fashion mobs, street theatre, etc.. Full program me via

Join us for this festive occasion! On Saturday, visitors will be treated with free entrance to the exhibition ‘Silks & Prints from the Abraham Archive’. We will organize workshops for children and free tours with guides, and many more surprises!

Utility boxes ‘dressed’ in the Nationalestraat

The District of Antwerp and MoMu are collaborating to ‘dress’ the utility boxes in the Nationalestraat with images of the MoMu collection.

The project of the utility boxes also brings the collection of the MoMu to the streets with a cross-section of the various smaller collections that are housed at the museum. Each utility box contains a QR code with additional information on the collection and the specific pieces.

Today, MoMu manages a collection of approximately 25,000 objects on fashion and textiles. Over the last ten years the museum collection has grown with over 7,000 items, with clothing and accessories representing the bulk. This remarkable expansion was accomplished through purchases but to a large extent also by one-off or regular donations by individuals, designers and fashion houses, as well as a few long-term loans. The utility boxes in the Nationalestraat provide only a brief glance of this extensive and varied collection which is such an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the museum’s own employees, visitors, students, researchers and designers.