May 19, 2024

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Unique & Classy

Willy Vanderperre’s Retrospective Brought Designers Together

3 min read

Raf Simons (left), Olivier Rizzo (middle), Willy Vanderperre (right)
Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu Antwerp

The photographer Willy Vanderperre is the focus of a new exhibition at MoMu, the fashion museum in Antwerp, Belgium. It’s the first time the museum has invited a fashion photographer to have a solo show. And as the director and chief curator, Kaat Debo, said in her catalogue essay, “It seemed natural and fully in line with the spirit of the time — in search of hope and prospects for the future — to select Willy Vanderperre, with his predilection for youth and subcultures.”

From left: Anja Rubik (left), Ferdinando Verderi (middle), Natasha Poly (right) Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu AntwerpModel Rianne Van Rompaey Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu Antwerp

From top: Anja Rubik (left), Ferdinando Verderi (middle), Natasha Poly (right) Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu AntwerpModel Rianne Van Rompaey Photo: B…
From top: Anja Rubik (left), Ferdinando Verderi (middle), Natasha Poly (right) Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu AntwerpModel Rianne Van Rompaey Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu Antwerp

Vanderperre has been taking pictures professionally for nearly 30 years, often in collaboration with the stylist Olivier Rizzo, his partner, whom he first met when they were students at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. The show is indeed inspiring: an enormous body of work that ranges from early portraits of young people to well-known fashion editorials to campaigns for brands like Prada and Calvin Klein to lovely images of flowers. There are some 180 pictures in all, arranged in a kind of black-walled maze. Vanderperre said he wanted to consider “the art of the editorial,” but seeing the work printed on such a huge scale, and masterfully so, gives it extra depth and feeling.

From left: Willy Vanderperre singing his book with Osana Ekue (left) and Natasha Poly (right) Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu AntwerpModel Luca Lemaire Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu Antwerp

From top: Willy Vanderperre singing his book with Osana Ekue (left) and Natasha Poly (right) Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu AntwerpModel Luca Lemaire
From top: Willy Vanderperre singing his book with Osana Ekue (left) and Natasha Poly (right) Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu AntwerpModel Luca Lemaire Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu Antwerp

The Antwerp fashion scene still seems like the most communal on earth, and it has been ever since the days of the Antwerp Six in the 1980s. The opening of the exhibit on Friday night brought out the designers Raf Simons, Pieter Mulier of Alaïa, Matthieu Blazy of Bottega Veneta, Walter Van Beirendonck, and Ann Demeulemeester; the makeup artist Peter Philips of Dior, an early collaborator of Vanderperre’s; and a number of models. About 600 people poured into the museum for the opening, with a small group meeting afterward for a stand-up dinner next door and then going on until the wee hours — Antwerp style — to a rave. The exhibit, “Willy Vanderperre: Prints, films, a rave and more …,” will continue until early August.

From left: Pieter Mulier (left) Matthieu Blazy (middle) Raf Simons (right) Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu AntwerpModel Kiki Willems Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu Antwerp

From top: Pieter Mulier (left) Matthieu Blazy (middle) Raf Simons (right) Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu AntwerpModel Kiki Willems Photo: Boy Kortekaa…
From top: Pieter Mulier (left) Matthieu Blazy (middle) Raf Simons (right) Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu AntwerpModel Kiki Willems Photo: Boy Kortekaas/ (c) MoMu Antwerp