Text JF. Pierets Photos Dirk Alexander
“I’m confused, I’m sitting here on the sofa, the heart my boyfriend drew on the mirror is still there, my heart in a rice cooker. I think I’ll marry him again at lunch. My cat is sleeping but it’s already been 4 days. Well, I have to go to the supermarket anyway. Guess technology isn’t ready for pancake teleportation”.
This is the diary entry from the main character of Niels Peeraer’s collection. The darling child of the Antwerp Academy’s graduating class of 2011 presents his graduate work Guess technology isn’t ready for pancake teleportation, consisting of couture-like tweed silhouettes, handmade leather armors, accessories, clothes and Japanese wooden sandals. All in candy-colored pastels. His concept revolved around the idea of a young boy who has an imaginary boyfriend and prepares to marry him every day. He plays video games all day long and goes to the supermarket in his pyjamas. He wears the armour that his video games-heroes are clad in, combines this with his grandmothers couture jackets (they’re actually too small but he’s very attached to them) and eats nothing but cupcakes and donuts.
Peeraer’s collection blends sophisticated Chanel-esque and a super-cute look with an ease that makes you curious about what’s going to happen next. Although the pictures show girlish boys wearing soft pink clothes, and cupcakes and teddy bears are placed just right, Niels is the only one who will never mention the words “unisex” or “androgynies” because he wants to achieve the exact opposite. “I want to create beautiful pieces that stand on their own for whomever feels related or touched by them”, he says.
Born in a tiny village in Belgium, Niels later moved to Paris: “Intentionally I wanted to move to Tokyo but plans changed as I found love in Paris. I just love the possibilities here: good Asian restaurants, cosmopolitan people. It’s very vibrant. And of course, residing in such a romantic city with the one you love is the most wonderful thing ever.” Part from moving out of love, Niels also thinks that some countries aren’t ready to appreciate his work or who he is. At least not yet. “I never really intend to shock people but I really want to wear the feel of the moment. When I wake up and feel like putting on a tutu, so be it. In Paris I don’t stand out as much as in Belgium so that’s a good start, but I love Tokyo, they think I’m super cute.” Influenced and inspired by Geisha’s and Japanese boys, Niels has always been thrilled by Asia, mainly Japan. In interviews he sometimes says he was a Japanese Geisha in his previous life.
For him that’s the closest description he can give for how this affection feels. Although not influenced by idols – “I think it limits you a lot” – he’s inspired by people in his everyday life and if he would really have to call someone an idol, it would be Terence Koh, a Canadian Chinese artist. One of his philosophies is “I will marry marry marry again, till marriage out of love becomes as common as drinking water”.
‘When I wake up and feel like putting on a tutu, so be it.’
His 3rd year Bachelor collection “Kizokusyakai no Dorei, geisha n°58-65” was granted the “Innovation Award” by Anne Chapelle (the leading woman behind Ann Deumeulemeester and Haider Ackerman) and was selected as a finalist for ITS#9 (International Talent Support, IT). His Master collection Guess technology isn’t ready for pancake teleportation won 5 awards which included a limited edition handbag collaboration with Delvaux. He had a personal gallery exhibition at MOMU (fashion museum, Antwerp), FFI movex Award for the leather usage and Ra Award (included showroom in Paris SS 2012). Did I mention Niels just reached his twenties? What does – let’s call it awardness – do to someone who only just graduated? “I’m very thankful for the appreciation of course, but if I learned one thing from my parents it’s to be humble. I don’t think too highly of myself. To get the highest grades of your class and to win all these awards frankly doesn’t mean that much when you compare it to this huge fashion scene. I’m going to make more than one collection per year but I don’t want to go crazy in following the madness of making four in the same amount of time. I think the fashion industry became too fast – the quality can’t keep up with it. So I want to try to get rid of that pressure and design beautiful pieces that are slightly more expensive. I would like people to buy just one beautiful piece instead of ten pieces of junk at H&M, having to throw them away after a year.”
At the moment Niels is starting a label for leather accessories in Paris. “Becoming a designer was always one of my dreams and all I can hope for is to actually make money by creating the collections I love so much. And maybe one day my designs will be sold in Asia. Wouldn’t that be amazing..”
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