Tim Van Steenbergen belongs to the youngest generation of successful Belgian fashion designers, whose creations can be found in a number of big-name, exclusive stores in the USA, Russia and Japan. At ITMA 2003 he will present a preview of his new summer collection on a catwalk specially built for the purpose at the Picanol stand. ITMA visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy this spectacle four times per day, before the hordes of the international fashion press descend on Paris for the same show!
But that's not all. Picanol has also invited Tim Van Steenbergen to create several large-scale artworks for its stand at ITMA 2003, using Picanol fabrics. As his medium Tim has chosen large frames in which to arrange his fabric compositions. He designed his first series of frames for an exhibition on the theme of fashion and art in the famous Groeninge museum in Brugge, scoring a great success. For the Picanol stand at ITMA Tim will create three frames, each using fabrics from one of the three textile sectors served by Picanol, namely apparel textiles, household & interior textiles, and technical textiles. All the fabrics bear the label "Woven on Picanol." The result promises to be nothing if not spectacular.
Young Belgian talent
Tim Van Steenbergen (26) is the romantic among the new generation of Antwerp clothing designers, obsessed with toiles, voiles, drapes and tailoring. He browses through history, flirts with the Belle Époque and embraces hand-crafted authenticity. Nostalgia with a contemporary touch.
Just four years ago Tim Van Steenbergen graduated from the Antwerp Fashion Academy as the first in his class. His graduating show brought a huge reaction, mainly because of the theatrical style that was already apparent. After his studies he joined Dries Van Noten, and then Olivier Theyskens as creative assistant. Theyskens encouraged Tim to set up for himself. He now works in his own business, in an 1890s house built by a Flemish tile manufacturer at the end of a far-flung cobbled street in Antwerp.
Tim has always been fascinated by fashion. As a child he made costumes from the films that he saw. "I just started cutting things from curtains: arms, shoulders and so on, to my mother's great consternation," he recalls. "And I watched carefully what my grandmother did. She was a seamstress, who made evening dresses at home. When I saw her working at the dresses I already knew that I wanted to do that later."
And indeed he now makes dresses to measure too, for women who come for fittings in front of the mirror in his studio. Just like his grandmother used to do at home. This is the element of nostalgia that has developed into an important part of his work. "Designing your own collection is great fun, it's a way of doing your own thing. But the made-to-measure work demands more craftsmanship, a more down-to-earth approach. I want to develop in that way with my ready-to-wear collection, back to a kind of aesthetic and freedom. The way that people used to work, with respect for the body underneath. Ideally I'd like to get back to the time when people in the salons came to choose their own material and discuss everything in detail." It sounds very romantic and even slightly nostalgic, but in fact Tim Van Steenbergen's ready-to-wear collection is surprisingly wearable.
Unique catwalk show at Picanol at ITMA 2003
Tim Van Steenbergen based his first fashion show in Paris on the theme of Death in Venice, Visconti's film adaptation of the classic Thomas Mann novella. It was mainly the atmosphere of the film that fascinated him. "You start from one particular image, in this case the closing scene in which the young boy, Tadzio, is standing in the water with the sun shining behind him. You see reflections in the water. In fact the collection was inspired by that image of clothing moving in the water."
For his latest collection Tim Van Steenbergen has drawn his inspiration from a costume book by the legendary Russian designer Barbara Karinska, who was one of countless émigrés flung westward from czarist Russia by the Bolsheviks in the 1920s. As one of famous choreographer George Ballanchine's closest collaborators, Karinska dressed over 75 of his productions. She also worked with many other renowned choreographers, producers and film directors, such as Frederick Ashton, Agnes de Mille, Bronislava Nijinska, Franco Zeffirelli and Victor Fleming. Karinska's costumes ran the gamut of theatrical genres, from burlesque and Broadway to Shakespeare and Molière. Now everyone is curious to see how Tim Van Steenbergen will translate the work of this outstanding costumière into the terms of today's clothing industry. Come along and see for yourself at ITMA 2003, with four shows daily on the Picanol catwalk!
Three works of art with Picanol fabrics
In addition to the catwalk show Tim Van Steenbergen will be appearing at ITMA 2003 with three large "frames", three works of art each made using one of the three textile sectors in which Picanol is active.
Last year the Groeninge museum in Brugge, world famous for its collection of Flemish primitives, asked Tim Van Steenbergen to participate in an exhibition on the theme of fashion and art. His graduate collection for the Academy had been very concept-oriented, and so the museum came to him for this project. "It eventually grew into quite a large undertaking, in collaboration with the British artist Kate Blacker," says Tim. "She considered that what fashion means nowadays is what painting meant in the past, and so she wanted to bring painting and fashion together. I contributed the fashion. This led to the 'framed dresses', a combination of framed artwork and tailor-made dress."