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Paul Boudens

Paul Boudens

Paul Boudens

Text JF. Pierets    Artwork Paul Boudens


Originally, Paul Boudens wanted to become a fashion designer when he first set foot in Antwerp. Yet fate decided differently (he flunked his entrance exam) and nowadays he’s one of the most wanted graphic designers working together with the Antwerp Fashion Museum and icons like Walter Van Beirendonck and Haider Ackermann. We catch up with him just as he returns from the Otis College of Art and Design in LA.


I read you were in LA for a “provocative discussion about the creation, reinterpretation, and presentation of fashion”. Did you also have some fun?
Yes, we had a LOT of fun! Last year, Otis asked me to run some workshops with the students, but after sending some e-mails back and forth, I wondered if it wouldn’t be cool to take designer Walter Van Beirendonck, photographer Ronald Stoops and make-up artist Inge Grognard along with me. That way we had the four-leaf clover of Antwerp fashion: a fashion designer, a photographer, a make-up artist, and a graphic designer. Otis instantly loved the idea, and even involved the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) so it turned out to be quite a tour.

Antwerp was put on the fashion map in 1988. How did that happen?
Well, if I remember correctly: six graduates of the Fashion Department of the Antwerp Royal Academy staged a group fashion show at London Fashion Week. The British press called them the “Antwerp Six” and turned Flemish fashion into a (inter)national phenomenon.

And fashion has become the fourth largest industry in Antwerp since then.
It’s amazing how much talent we have over here.

You work with Walter Van Beirendonck for over three decades now. Was it a well-considered decision?
Not at all. I rolled in by accident. He asked me to create prints for his T-shirts in 1989. I was in my third year of Graphic Design and Illustration. We’ve been working together ever since. His work explores challenging social issues and ignores conventional trends. It’s great working with this kind of explosive energy.

And quickly your fluorescent colors and exciting invitations attracted the attention of other designers. Isn’t it difficult to work for and with so many different creative people?
In the beginning we had a blast kicking all things sacred and bourgeois. Something that came both out of rebellion as out of inability, I must say: the folly of youth! Or the ignorance and arrogance, of course. (laughs) As time goes by you develop a kind of empathic skill and I discovered that I’m good in translating what a designer wants or likes to see, without losing my own persona.

Nevertheless you describe your work as ‘classic with a schizophrenic twist’.
You have to: that’s how you become when working with so many different people. (laughs)

The punk twist has become partly one of your signatures and your work communicates a strong vision. Is it possible to hold onto your outspoken style in an industry saturated by hype?
I never was a punk, you know. But, most designers create an aesthetic through a certain photographic vocabulary that is already very strong. There’s no reason for me to re-invent that. The image has to stay close to what they are standing for. But they trust me enough to play around with their ‘vocabulary’.

Don’t you ever feel frustrated not having more to do with the principle image?
No. I love working in the shadow of a fashion designer, helping to expand their vision. Once in a while, I venture out into the limelight, but it quickly bores me. I’m perfectly happy where I am and with what I do.

In the meantime, you can add Dries Van Noten, Olivier Theyskens, Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto, Wim Neels, Jurgi Persoons, A.F. Vandevorst, Haider Ackermann, The Antwerp Fashion Academy, Het Zuidelijk Toneel and MoMu, the Fashion Museum of the Province of Antwerp, and many others to your palmarès. What are the things you are most proud of? 
I consider every thing I design as a sort of ‘baby’, you know. But, two things are very dear to me. First, there’s my monograph Paul Boudens Works Volume I, which was published in 2003, and second there’s my solo exhibition at The Wapping Project in London in 2010 called ‘Trust Me (I Know What I’m Doing)’. How’s that for an ego boost! (laughs)

In 2001, you were responsible for the art direction of ‘Fashion 2001 Landed’, the ambitious fashion city project in Antwerp with Walter Van Beirendonck and Gerdi Esch. Didn’t you become art director and graphic designer of A Magazine during this project?
You are totally right, my dear. (laughs) We wanted A Magazine to be a fashion magazine that explores the universe of a chosen fashion designer in each issue. We invited a guest curator – an international fashion designer, group or house – to develop innovative, personalized content to express their aesthetic and cultural values. Each issue celebrated the designer’s ethos: their friends, their passion, their stories, emotions, fascinations, spontaneity and authenticity. Back then, we made issues with, among others, Bernhard Willhelm, Hussein Chalayan and Olivier Theyskens, and more recently Maison Martin Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto, Haider Ackermann and Riccardo Tisci from Givenchy. The magazine was always a wonderful race against time. I got the material a little ahead of time, so I could do some preliminary lay-outs for when the designer came to Antwerp, we could work like crazy to do the whole magazine in three or four days. Sadly, I had to say goodbye to the magazine: let’s cite musical differences. (laughs)




‘I started off making cassette covers and cards for friends with Mecanorma letters in a time when colour photocopies were still a novelty. Yes, I’m a dinosaur now.’

Does fashion still make you happy?
You know, fashion itself doesn’t interest me. (laughs) But it’s a fun sector to work in. However, society has changed tremendously in the last ten years and fashion became a really serious business. Everything has to be profitable so things are less intuitive, spontaneous and dangerous. Nevertheless, that’s the way it is and I like the fast pace of fashion. I can’t remember what a holiday feels like because I’m always at work and the fashion show invitations are always lurking around the corner.

Next to fashion show invitations you’re also designing books, catalogs, posters. You obviously love your work.
I just love to create stuff. Maybe it’s because I’m easily bored. I always say: ‘the nicest job is always the next one’.

Do you have other ambitions?
Not really, like I said before: I am where I should be, doing what I should do. I once said that finding the right typeface is like falling in love — I guess that illustrates how I feel about my work.

Were you the class swat or the rebel?
As a teenager I was a total wuss: if I would meet myself now I would kick myself and shout ‘MAN UP!’. However, studying graphic design, I had a lot of fun. Mind you, I flunked my entrance exam to the Antwerp Fashion Academy in the mid-80’s and on a comfortable budget from my parents; I tried some other things like Press and Communication and Translation. Nevertheless, the moment I really had to make an effort and discovered Graphic Design, I knew where my heart was and it went rather smoothly.

You started off in the ‘80’s so I guess the tools to work with were quite different from now?
I started off making cassette covers and cards for friends with Mecanorma letters in a time when colour photocopies were still a novelty. Yes, I’m a dinosaur now. (laughs) I guess you can say the possibilities were different, yet not per definition worse; on the contrary: there was a lot more freedom!

Your work shows taped edges and paint splatters on wallpaper or cotton amongst other materials. The result is both rough and sharp, somewhat twisted and leaving a strange impression. Is that where your handywork comes in?
You know, I started analog then went digital — there was no other choice. But I like that combination: design or art is simply not done just on a computer. When you work with tape, paper and scissors, your mind works differently than when behind a screen. Anyway, I always want to give my work a human touch.

What’s your main philosophy when it comes to your work?
I don’t like designs with a shelf life of one day only. How ironic this might seem while working mainly in fashion, I want my work to be timeless, which is actually impossible. However, my work ages quite well, I think — there’s some good genes in it. (laughs)

And does it always work?
Not always, of course. Most of the time the right image pops up in my head and I try to recreate that. If nothing appears, I’m in trouble, but it happens rarely… (laughs) If it takes a little longer, there’s always my gut feeling, which makes me avoid hypes and go for the long run.

Tell me your future dream. 
Yuk, what a difficult question! Let’s say ‘publishing the second volume of my monograph’, maybe? It’s Bald Ambition I guess: look at my head! (laughs)

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Et Alors? magazine. A global celebration of diversity.

Carim Bouzian

Carim Bouzian

Carim Bouzian

Text & photos JF. Pierets


We meet at a terrace on a sunny day in Antwerp. He says he forgot his cigarettes, I say I don’t have any but maybe he can ask one at the table next to ours. Seems that he’s too aware not to step into the “another Moroccan is asking for a cigarette” cliché. Ever since he was a kid, he tried to avoid any stereotypes. Carim Bouzian, 29-year-old, entrepreneur, into politics, Muslim and gay. 


Where you raised to be beyond the scope of any cliché?
Yes and no. I was born here so I feel completely Belgian, never had the perception that Morocco is still ‘my country’. It’s a great country to go on holidays and my cultural background lies there, but that’s it. Yet my mother always had an ambiguous conflict in our upbringing. On one hand we had a very Flemish education. We were not allowed to talk Arabic to avoid an accent, but on the other hand she had her own baggage and influences from when she was young. So you can imagine the division. We were brought up very liberal but sometimes it bothered her because it was hard to recognize herself in her kids, mentality-wise.

And your father? 
My father passed away but I still remember it was very important to him not to be restrained by boundaries and nationality.

And how is your relationship with your mother now? Because at one point you had to tell her you are gay. 
I have a very strong connection with my mother and one day she told me that all my anger, all my tensions had nothing to do with her, but with the fact that I had to concede I was gay. So you can say she did my coming out, but that also means I always had the feeling it would be no issue. Since we were young she always told us we could marry whomever we wanted to, regardless of gender and nationality. As long as we were happy. The only rule was not to get in touch with the justice department.

Considering your upbringing, weren’t you a stranger among other Moroccan kids?
Very much. I was always the one who said it didn’t matter being gay before I even knew it myself. Seems like I was ahead of my time there.

Are you religious? 
I believe in something from which there is no tangible proof of existence. It’s based on a feeling so I’m not the kind of religious person who thinks he has all the knowledge. For me, an intelligent believer is an agnostic. The Koran says that Christ has never been crucified and in Christian faith they say he has been. I’m not into this dogmatic thinking so I don’t want to mingle in that kind of discussion. These scriptures are written by witnesses and people who were around and we all know how news facts can be twisted for the better.

So you are more a spiritualist? 
Sometimes believing makes you a bit of an anarchist. When you say that you believe in something above us, but you don’t believe in dogmas, you state that everybody is equal. This society is filled with categories and leading job positions but I never felt there was somebody who could tell me what to do.

You are, in spite of any dogmas, a follower of the Islam, so is it not forbidden to be gay?
That it’s forbidden is not quite true. You have the Koran, the first source, but then you also have the Hadith with the traditions of the prophet. In these scriptures there are verses to be found regarding homosexuality. The men who were allowed to be near the prophet’s women, were men who didn’t feel any passionate desire towards women, who wore jewelry, men who behaved femininely. Those are stories we find in the Islam. That is also why transsexualism is allowed in so many Islamic countries. Because one way or another the prophet acknowledged the existence of a third gender. Yet it’s been interpreted that you can’t stay a man if you are homosexual. For instance in Iran, homosexuality is a crime punishable by imprisonment or even execution where transsexualism is legal if accompanied by a sex change operation.



‘I really want to inform people on the true story. How is it possible that a religion who is so anti doesn’t properly verify if that what they hear is true.’

I don’t say that’s correct, don’t get me wrong, but it shows that in the early years there had been possibilities that are now entirely degenerated. Next to that, you can read a lot of stories regarding intersexuality in the Koran. They condemn sodomy in the story of Lot but that story is about violation of integrity. It’s a story about straight married men raping other men, about taking away someone’s honour. That had nothing to do with homosexuality.

Do you know why a lot of Muslims believe that homosexuality is wrong? 
A lot of people have a blind faith in what’s been told and 99% don’t even know the content of the Hadith. They go to the mosque and believe what they hear instead of doing some research to check if everything is true. In essence, that’s where people go wrong. You have to keep an open mind and you have to do your investigation in order to be sure of what you believe. I keep on saying it to other Muslims; keep on analyzing things, keep on delving in consideration of the truth. Because there’s a huge difference in scriptures from a thousand years ago and present creeds. And don’t forget that in the dark ages, Europe pointed at Arabia for being decadent, for it’s poems about homosexuality. Today we’re looking at a moral inversion. The Islamic world is now pointing at Europe for being degenerate. Isn’t it about time to raise awareness of the fact that it’s no one’s fault? That someone’s sexual character is just a given?

You seem to know a lot about it? 
I really want to inform people on the true story. How is it possible that a religion who is so anti, who even practices death penalties regarding homosexuality – mind you they consider homosexuality as adultery and you can get stoned for that – doesn’t properly verify if that what they hear is true. Even the punishment of stoning is never mentioned in the Koran. I consider this lack of knowledge, a large shortcoming of the Muslim community. We live in a place where millions of documents are available so use it, because otherwise you lose the core message of your religion. Let’s not forget that the greatest followers of Jesus and Mohamed where people who lived on the sideline, small groups. Contemporary religion doesn’t allow these people any more. They condemn them. When you reckon everything and everybody being wrong, it results in a religion with too many taboos. And the more taboos you have, the less you can develop yourself. It’s the largest brake of all because it leads to deterioration of the community.

You take a stand on the subject matter and you talk to people in order to change things. Why this commitment?
I always felt the urge of doing something. I can’t handle injustice. For me it’s a natural reflex to react on unreasonable and unjust behaviour and not only because I’m gay. When I compare myself to other gay men and women I can say I had it quite easy, yet I have to take a stand by some kind of inner pressure. Sometimes my mother complains about it, asking me why I always have to enter into a discussion, but I can’t help it. I put a lot of effort into explaining but I also react on things I hear or read, when dogmas are randomly spread. Not everybody likes that and I’ve had more than one death threat in the past.

Yet that didn’t hold you back to keep on going?
On the contrary. I got more motivated. It depends a lot on how you look at it. The Moroccan community is not just one community, there are several. The Islam is what binds most of them but not all of them are practicing Muslims. Most of the time it’s only the conservative wing that’s not keen on my interferences. The more liberal people think it’s a good thing. I don’t say they agree, but at least it’s tolerated to have another opinion. And then you have the left wing, which are of the opinion that you have to do what you got to do. It’s not all as black and white as people think.

You triggered a campaign regarding homosexuality within the Islam. Can you tell me something about that? 
I promoted a poster campaign for acceptance of Muslim homosexuals. The image showed two gay boys and two –girls. Needless to say it wasn’t fully appreciated but those things have to be done. Some gays are confronted with extreme reactions and I feel addressed to try and make a difference. Everybody has to have the guarantee to be safe. That’s a basic human right. You can’t change things by just talking about it, you have to act. And yes, call me an idealist, but I’m motivated, and hopeful.

And isn’t that the perfect combination!

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Et Alors? magazine. A global celebration of diversity.

Bart Moeyaert

Bart Moeyaert

Bart Moeyaert

Text Nora van Craen


Bart Moeyaert is internationally famous for his work as a poet, a writer, a translator, a lecturer and a screen writer. He once mentioned on television (on ‘Reyers Late’) that society is often overwhelming, that one is alone with one’s thoughts about that, and that it is not always useful to keep on smiling all the time, pretending one is invincibly strong. I could not agree more. Hearing just one of Bart’s quotes was enough to make me realize that he has ‘a certain something’; something that makes him read between the lines of a story. That is why I was not satisfied with simply looking at his Wikipedia page to find out who he is and what he does. I wanted to experience the essence of his inner reality, a reality located in between the lines of Antwerp’s dazzling energy. So, on a sunny, yet rainy Tuesday in sunny, yet rainy May, I managed to meet him in person at the Grand Café in Antwerp. The result of that meeting was an A to Z about Bart Moeyaert, in which I will share with you some of the finest moments of our meeting, some of  his unforgettable quotes and some important facts about his life. 


Astrid Lindgren, a Swedish author best known for Pippi Longstocking, is one of the significant writers that influenced Bart. He even calls Lindgren one of his grandmothers. He cherishes Aidan Chambers’ ‘Dance on my Grave’; a comforting novel about two boys experiencing deep friendship which blossomed into love. This book inspired him to scrutinize his personality and his story telling methods. Bart lives in Antwerp. He was the official poet of this vivid city in 2006 and 2007. ‘Africa Behind the Fence’ (1995) was his first picture book for children. The illustrations were created by Anna Höglund.

He was born in Bruges, Belgium, on the 9th of June, 1964. As the 7th son in the family, King Baudouin by tradition became his godfather. In our conversation I mentioned the fact that the number ‘7’ regularly appears in his stories. Interestingly, this fact was new to him.  “Blood, sweat and tears are fantastic, so are ugliness and shortcomings,” Bart says when it comes to the difficulties of writing. “Unfortunately, most of us are raised to think that blood, sweat and tears are to be avoided because they are unpleasant.”

Bart is i.a. known for his children’s books. The fact that people expect that children always get a message or a lesson from a story makes him nervous. “That is not the way one ought to deal with children. They are not adults yet, there is still plenty for them to learn, but in the meantime adults should not think about them as if they were ignorant or naïve. They can deal with a lot more than adults tend to think. Think deeply about how you were yourself when you were eight, and you will realize how you dealt with adult matters.”

With ‘Duet with False Notes’ Bart made his début. He was just 19 years old when he wrote this autobiographical novel. This book emerged from the diary he kept when he was 14 and 15 years old. While reading Bart’s stories, I noticed some sort of distance to the facts, of what has taken place in between two pages. Bart says he would not call this distance. Instead, he believes reality is not primarily constituted by the objective facts of the environment, but by impressions and by one’s thoughts between the lines. He escorts the reader around the covert mind of the main character of the story.

Together with illustrator Wolf Erlbruch and the Dutch Blazers Ensemble Bart is writing a trilogy: ‘The Creation’, ‘The Paradise’ and ‘The Heaven’. ‘The Heaven’ is to be published in 2014. In this trilogy a story meets music in a most harmonious way. Not only did he read the Bible to do a background study for ‘The Paradise’, he also made use of gardening manuals to understand why, for example, a tree loses its leaves. The story is very sensual: Eve does not resemble the biblical Eve, she has more of a ‘Lillith’ appearance.

Bart wants to be free: he does not want to label people or things, nor does he want his own work to be labeled. When he wrote his début, he never intended for it to be read by young people in particular. He never even thought he was going to become a children’s book author! It was his first publisher who told him an author’s image is important, his being the image of a children’s writer. It took a while before he realized he himself had to determine his writing style and path.  “When I am writing a book, I might think the story will probably be read by, say, 7-year-olds, but that’s it. I only know the story I am going to tell and I have some thoughts about the shape or format.”

Graz (2009) is a story about Herman Eichler, a pharmacist living in Graz, Austria. One day, a young woman has an accident in front of Herman’s pharmacy. This crucial moment in Herman’s life started off a deep thought process about the man he really is. Is he a homosexual, for example? Bart wrote the largest part of this story while staying at Graz to give lectures. ‘Graz’ was written for the Antwerp theatre group ‘STAN’. Bart was nominated for Gaypersonality of 2011.

In 2011 Bart was nominated for  the Hans Christian Andersen Award for the 4th time.

‘Iemands lief’ (‘Someone’s Lover’) is Bart’s version of ‘l’Histoire du Soldat’ (Stravinsky, Ramuz), written for a narrative performance with top violinist Janine Jansen. It portrays how a soldier cannot resume his normal life because the war has changed him too much. In a similar manner, Bart was so harshly transformed by being a city’s official poet that he could never return to 2005 (see M). “Feeling this sledge hammer blow made this book so much more important to me.”

During his stay in Japan, one of the countries where he has been giving lectures, Bart experienced an astonishing moment in a huge store:  “In the middle of the computers department I felt euphoric: Japanese was written all over the place and I could not read anything of it and nobody knew my language. In my bag I carried a book which I was able to read, but the funny thing was that it was a Dutch translation of one of Coetzee’s books. This interwovenness of languages and the realization that I am constituted by languages, which I do not mind at all, made me euphorically happy.”

The Boekenleeuw 2013 award goes to Bart’s ‘Knock Knock, Who’s There?’ (‘Wie klopt daar?’). This is his 6th Boekenleeuw; he also won one for ‘Kiss Me’, ’Bare Hands’, ‘Its Love We Don’t Understand’, ‘The Creation’ and ‘The Milky Way’.

Bart is a lecturer in Creative Writing at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. The title of one of Bart’s books is ‘It’s Love We Don’t Understand.’ What he does understand of love is that we are raised to think that the concept of ‘man-woman-child’ and ‘house-garden-dog’ is our target, while the reality is totally different. More interesting than what he himself understands of love is the question why we decide to be with someone after that one spark, he says. Why do we make this choice so quickly, while there might be many other people in the world whom we may be compatible with? When Bart met his boyfriend, he made it clear that there are multiple loves in his life: his love for him and his love for writing. The one cannot live without the other.



‘To Bart, an artist lives multiple lives: he sees many more things from many more perspectives and tries to describe everything to himself in order to digest it.’

Bart married Robin Steins in 2006. During Bart’s career as the official poet of Antwerp, it was not easy for him to see eye to eye with the world and its constantly reproducing misery. He wrote a poem, ‘Woman and Child’, about the tragic racist murders by Hans Van Themsche in 2006 and read it out loud at Luna’s funeral, the murdered child. I ask him if he thinks that such a ‘blackened heart’ (‘zwartgeblakerd hart’, used in his poem ‘Lighthouse’) is useful to an artist. To Bart, an artist lives multiple lives: he sees many more things from many more perspectives and tries to describe everything to himself in order to digest it. He sees things he cannot cope with and it gets under his skin, forming that blackened heart. Through writing, a poet can digest his misery.

Now is the moment in which we live. You can only finish the writings you are writing now,” Bart says to me. We were talking about how important ‘trying to be as good as possible’ was to the family he was raised in. I wanted to know how it felt to him, now that he has achieved the status of a successful writer. According to him, ‘At which mountain top would I like to arrive?’ is the most harmful, paralyzing thought to every newbie in writing. Bart did not commence his writing career thinking ‘How am I going to carve this out?’ or ‘How am I going to do this perfectly?’.New York is where he would like to be now if I were able to teleport people. Last year, he stayed there at a writer’s residence to work on his new book.

In 2006 he narrated the story of Olek in the musical theatre production ‘Olek Shot a Bear’ with the ‘Flemish Radio Orchestra’.

Together with Elisabeth Broekaert, he published ‘Let’s Stick Together’, a photo book with eight of his poems about love. In 2001 the poem ‘Small’ appeared on the side wall of the theatre house HETPALEIS (Meistraat, Antwerp). Broekaert witnessed some weddings with her camera. She took photos and watched the love that had just clinched in its own way.

Most of his books were published by Querido. ‘The 27 Questions Interview’ provides you with non-trivial questions and witty facts about Bart.

Many meaningful concepts return in his stories and poetry. For example, he often writes about lighthouses. “In Antwerp, I find the image of a lighthouse important. It is a beacon to know there’s something over there. You can avoid it, but you can also approach it. A lighthouse says: ‘come here’. If you do not want this, then tear down the lighthouse. So if Antwerp wants to be a port city, there has to be a lighthouse. ‘Come here’: you are meant to live with it whether you like it or not.”

Bart decided not to have children because of the society we live in. He knows that he himself is capable of dealing with insensitive remarks about homosexuality, but one can never know if a child would be able to do the same.

This year he celebrates his thirtieth anniversary as a writer. Congrats, Bart! The only diary Bart isn’t fumbling with is his tumblr. Visit or read his tweets at

Many of his poems carry just one word as a title, like for example ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Choose’. ‘U’ (‘you’) probably has the shortest title of them all.

Michiel Verberne was the pseudomym he used at the age of 14. When one of his poems got published in a children’s newspaper, De Stipkrant, nobody believed it was his.

‘Plint’, a publishing company which gives poetry a creative twist, has made a window poem of the playful rhyme ‘Once More’ (‘Weer eens’). Window poems are printed in white on transparent plastic and can be stuck to a window. On Bart’s website ( you can find a contest section posing a different question every once in a while. The winner gets one of his works for free!

“It is important to write for yourself. You should not try to please others by writing. I am not saying that you have to write as if you were the only one to read it, but you write a poem to yourself without considering person X or Y’s preferences. This implies that you allow yourself to be astonished. One has to make peace with one’s way of proceeding.”

Bart lives at a stone’s throw from the Antwerp Zoo. In collaboration with the Antwerp Zoo and the city project ‘O Dierbaar Antwerpen’, the Royal Film Archive compiled a unique anthology depicting rarely seen footage of a bygone age. The first images date from the 1910s. Among others, Bart Moeyaert wrote some reflections on those images.

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Et Alors? magazine. A global celebration of diversity.

Niels Peeraer

Niels Peeraer

Niels Peeraer

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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