There were still looks and girls to be fitted last night for their show today, but that wasn’t going to deter Filip Arickx and An Vandevorst, otherwise known as the A.F. Vandevorst design duo, from celebrating the launch of their new book, Ende Neu, which commemorates 20 years of their fashion brand. Images captured backstage and beyond, insights from industry names, and excerpts from the designers themselves provide the framework for the tome which works to portray the world they have come to create. The show, too, a curated selection of archive pieces with one look per collection to tell its own AFV story through the years, compounded this celebration and the volume of work.
Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION
“We were surprised when we looked back through the archive and how it could still be up to date,” reflected An. Indeed, as these personal style highlights wandered past, you couldn’t help but notice just how much of an influence this pair have had on designers today – some of these looks having wandered down another catwalk not so long ago, even. Nothing had dated at all. Clearly, only inspired.
But then that in itself is perhaps hardly surprising when you familiarise yourself with their provenance. Both studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp – training with Dries Van Noten – and met there in 1987. Ten years later, the husband and wife launched their first collection in Paris.
“It was an emotional journey, our story over 20 years. When we started, it was not so easy; there was no social media, we had to scream,” she says of the landscape they find themselves in today. “Fashion is always a reflection of a time and of a zeitgeist; every time has its good and bad things.” Social media, she pointed out, included.
Entitled Always + Forever, 40 looks from 40 seasons took to the catwalk with archive tickets attached to each, which they described as “emotional passports.” The classics – the Red Cross emblem and the hospital references; the Spring/Summer 2001 leather waistcoat and the Autumn/Winter 2009/10 felt trench – paraded out, the collection working on its own just as much as each of those individual pieces had when they were first shown alongside their designated styles at a designated time.
“It doesn’t get easier,” confessed An of the whole show thing, theirs a high-note ending on the last day of couture week. “But there’s always next season. That’s the good thing. After 20 years, there’s always another season.” Good advice from seasoned and respected professionals.