Mode Museum

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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Yves Saint Laurent, Abraham and animal prints

Gustav Zumsteg’s first meeting with Yves Saint Laurent, at the funeral of Christian Dior in 1957, marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship. The two men’s business ties also lasted several decades, their unparalleled collaboration benefiting greatly from the fact that they were kindred spirits. Yves Saint Laurent’s last haute couture collection of 2002 coincided with the demise of Abraham Ltd.

The imitation of nature poses one of the greatest challenges in textile design. These animal prints are remarkable for their application of mimesis, their extreme naturalism, and the way they play with abstraction and illusion. Translating a leopard’s spots or snakeskin into a print invariably pushes designers to the limit.

Wonderingmode in Poland

On the occasion of the finissage of the exhibition ‘Wonderingmode. Inter-relations between art/fashion/architecture’ at CoCa (Torun-Poland), artistic director Dobrila Denegri invited me to give a talk on our museum’s exhibition policy and on how MoMu translates fashion to the museum.

Curated by Denegri, “Wonderingmode is imagined as a visual journey through a variety of imaginery worlds created on the intersection of different domains of creativity and expressive languages. The work exhibited transcends any conventional definition of fashion in favour of those creative processes that have an outcome with a much wider span of elements than just a garment. In certain cases these outcomes can be defined as hybrid objects that evolve and revolve around the body, in others they can simply be visualisations, concepts and processes which spread the notion of fashion in different directions, such as art, design, architecture and all other forms that come out of the meeting between these disciplines.

More than just a specific thematic and methodological line, this project desires to reflect the state of wondering, in the sense of search, probe and open-ended movement which is necessary for any form of creativity, as well as in the sense of fascination, amazement and awe that the most daring creativity can provoke”. The exhibition features work of a.o. Hussein Chalayan, Bogomir Doringer, Naomi Filmer, Kim Hagelind, Ruth Hogben, Yuima Nakazato, Daniel Widrig, …

Abraham Revisited

Could the Abraham Archive be a pointer to the future?

Five contemporary fashion designers (Akris, Peter Pilotto, Diane von Furtsenberg, Dries Van Noten and Heinrich Brambilla), well-known for their exceptional use of prints, to peruse the textiles in the Abraham Archive and select those that impressed them most or best suited their personal fashion concept. They each designed a characteristic outfit onto which the fabrics they had chosen are projected.

For your reading pleasure!

Good news for all you fashion lovers! The MoMu library has upgraded its magazine display and subscribed to seven new fashion magazines. Even though the library already has a lot of subscriptions, the more is always the merrier.


The sixties and seventies was an era of great optimism which saw the emergence of a new way of looking at the world. Fashion was now an expression of unbridled joie de vivre.

Large designs were en vogue and Abraham Ltd. had mastered the art of the blow-up as had no other. gigantic flowers exploded the conventional repeat for dresses and refused to be bound by the proportions of the human body.

Two faces regained their identity

Mrs Stessels (Wijnegem) a keen genealogist is researching her female ancestors. She remembered two family portraits donated to the Sterckshof museum in Deurne in the early 1960’s. The portraits painted in 1855 by Jean- Baptiste Taquin (1823-1905), a painter and photographer from Namur are now part of the historical collection of the Fashion Museum in Antwerp.

Mrs Stessels visited our storage last week and she could identify the sitters as Ferdinand Henri Joseph De Reul De Faulx (1812 Faulx Mozet – 1870 Leuven) and his wife Félicitée Joseph Duvivier (Faulx Mozet 1823 – Kuregem 1899). They owned the castle of Faulx Le Tombe near Namur and are depicted as a fashionable couple. Her green and black silk dress with pagoda sleeves and a front and ruff in cotton embroidery is particularly handsome and reminiscent of several costumes in our collection. Very moving is a photograph of the couple probably taken a short time before Ferdinand Henri died in 1870.

Art, fashion and guestbooks at the Kronenhalle

During the 1930s, Abraham was under the leadership of Gustav Zumsteg. He regularly stayed in Paris and became acquainted with a number of influential artists, from Georges Braque to Marc Chagall and Alberto Giacometti, and famous couturiers, such as Pierre Balmain, Christian Dior, Elsa Schiaparelli and Yves Saint Laurent. These great names from the art and fashion worlds had a considerable influence on Zumsteg’s artistic creations.

In a short period Zumsteg became a key figure in manufacturing textiles for haute couture with the Swiss Abraham company.

The Kronenhalle restaurant is a Zurich institution, but famous far beyond Switzerland’s borders. Hulda Zumsteg was its Patronne, and when her husband Gottlieb died in 1957, her son Gustav regarded it as his sacred duty to help his mother run the establishment she had built up. Here he found a home for his growing art collection, which provided a suitable exclusive backdrop for the restaurant’s illustrious clientele. When a bar designed by Robert Haussmann was added in 1965, the lamps and various other furnishings were designed by Alberto and Diego Giacometti.

Between 1935 and 2002, people from all over the world paid their respects to Hulda and Gustav Zumsteg by entering their names in the Kronenhalle guestbook. Their drawings, poems, and dedications now fill ten such volumes, which together contain some 400 entries. Writers and actors, politicians and composers, scientists and fashion designers – anybody who was anybody had to be immortalized here.

Wikimedia Fashion edit-a-thon in Utrecht

Information on fashion should be accurate, rich and accessible to everyone. Especially on one of the most used websites in the world: Wikipedia. That is why the Europeana Fashion project is working on improving fashion information on Wikipedia and project partner MoMu is making important steps to open up its collection to the world.

In order to improve fashion information on Wikipedia, Europeana Fashion gathers knowledge about fashion during a so-called “edit-a-thon”: an event during which people come together to edit and contribute new information to Wikipedia. Researchers, curators, journalists, fashion students, experts from the entire fashion community are invited to spend a day together at one of Europeana Fashion’s partner institutions to write new and update existing articles on fashion.

The first edit-a-thon was held on 22 March 2013 at Nordiska museet. For this edit-a-thon, MoMu for the first time published eight images from the MoMu collection on Wikimedia under a Free Culture license. The use of the Free Culture means that the images can now be used to illustrate new or existing articles on Wikipedia, but also that anyone can now freely use and study the images,. For example, to put on a blog or for use in school projects.

For the next edit-a-thon on 13 May 2013, MoMu is planning to release more images on Wikimedia under a Free Culture license. Through its participation in the Europeana Fashion project and by making images of its collection available on Wikimedia, MoMu is working towards its goal to engage audiences worldwide and let them freely enjoy, contribute, participate and share the MoMu collection.

Visitor of the month

Visitor of the month: Elien Migalski, 2013, Photo: Monica Ho

Living and studying in Antwerp, Elien Migalski found her way to our library. She is a 23 year old Master student Film Studies and Visual Culture at the University of Antwerp. Her thesis is a visual analysis of fashion spreads published in British Vogue in 1960-1980 and 2010. Elien will try to link it to the role of women in Western society during that period.

The Vogue collection at the MoMu library was exactly what she needed for her research. “The MoMu library has an extensive collection of fashion magazines which is perfect to select the content for my analysis”, says Elien. Not only did it serve as an inspiration but it was also a great pleasure for her to browse through it.

With her thesis, Elien pays attention to the different aspects and steps of the production of a fashion shoot. Her method of research is first selecting the fashion shoots. Then by drawing up a check list, she analyses and compares the images. In the end she will come up with wonderful results and write them down in her thesis.

(words Monica Ho)

Visit from Reykjavik

Visit from Reykjavik, 2013, Photo: Christin Ho

Last Friday MoMu welcomed the fashion students of the Reykjavik School of Design. Not only did we provide an interesting insight into our current exhibition about Abraham’s vision and working, but they also got the opportunity to take a look behind the scenes at MoMu with our curator Frieda Sorber.
Visit from Reykjavik, 2013, Photo: Christin Ho

Visit from Reykjavik, 2013, Photo: Christin Ho

During their trip down fashion’s memory lane at the library storage, the students also saw exclusive hand painted fashion illustrations of the nineteenth century and pattern books of Voortman, the former textile company in Ghent.

(words by Christin Ho)

Vote for MoMu!

For seven years in a row now, the Museum Prize has been rewarding museums all over Belgium. The initiators, the magazine ‘Openbaar Kunstbezit in Vlaanderen‘ (Public Art Collection Flanders) and the law firm Linklaters, offer a Flemish, a Walloon and a Brussels museum 10,000 euros each. The jury pays particular attention to the museum’s accessibility in making its choice. The monetary prize can be used to improve access for children and young people, disadvantaged groups and people with disabilities.

Visitors can vote too, because a museum and its public are inseparable. The Public Jury brings recognition to its favourite museum by awarding the Museum Prize from the Public.
Cast your vote on MoMu! Votes can be made from 10 April through 31 May at (in Dutch) and (in French) and all voters have the opportunity of winning fabulous prizes such as a weekend at the Art Festival in Watou!

Europeana Fashion Conference in Florence report

Museo Gucci at the Piazza Della Signoria in Florence

The Europeana Fashion Community gathered in sunny Florence on April 17 and 18. The conference offered some thought provoking and inspiring talks and discussions, presenting both the goals and ambitions of Europeana Fashion, as well as the many challenges that lay ahead of us when it comes to the digitalization and curation of our digital archives and databases. MoMu’s Europeana team – Dieter, Gabrielle, Henk & Tobias, were present as well, together with representatives of the 22 European partners.
Diane Pernet at the Europeana Fashion Conference

Diane Pernet at the Europeana Fashion Conference

The first day of the conference MoMu’s director presented the plans for a digital platform in 2014-2015. The platform will have an online presence on the MoMu website and social media, as well as a physical space in the museum. It aims to document the work behind the scenes of the museum, as well as commission new digital products such as fashion films, and offer a platform for young talent: designers, video artists, researchers, …. The platform will create space for experiment and encounter, and offer the possibilities for opening up the notion of fashion curation, through interaction with other museum professionals and fashion specialists.

The Villa Favard, home of Polimoda

Gala dinner at Polimoda’s Villa Favard

On the evening of April 17, after a long day of presentations and discussions, Linda Loppa, former director of MoMu and current leading lady at Polimoda, hosted a gala dinner at the Villa Favard. Linda still knows how to bring people together and give her guests a warm welcome! The amazing setting of the Villa, the excellent Italian food and wines, the wonderful mix of Florence’s fashion industry, the Europeana fashion community and the Polimoda team, made for a perfect evening! Grazie mille Linda!

The second and final day opened with a panel discussion on fashion in new media, with Anja Cronberg (editor in chief of Vestoj), Marie Schuller (responsible for fashion film at SHOWstudio), Geer Oskam (senior marketing specialist at Europeana), blogger and fashion journalist Diane Pernet (MoMu will host Pernet’s fashion film festival, ASVOFF, in the autumn of this year), Gabriele Monti (IUAV) and Agnès Rocamora (London College of Fashion). In the afternoon some time to visit the Gucci and Ferragamo museums, and Palazzo Strozzi, who are presenting the wonderful exhibition ‘The Springtime of the Renaissance – Sculpture and the Arts in Florence 1400-1460’.