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05.11.2021
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We're excited to unveil our exclusive collab with Julie Kegels, Antwerp born young and talented designer that graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2021. Read all about Julie Kegels' collaboration with Essentiel Antwerp, her graduation collection and her ambitions in the fashion industry.
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You've recently graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine arts, but how and when did you know that you wanted to be a fashion designer?

Julie — Studying fashion design at the Academy has been a dream ever since I was a young girl. Growing up in Antwerp and being surrounded by creative people, I've always enjoyed creating a look with beautiful and interesting objects. I would describe my style as modern elegance, truly valuing classics of fashion history. I love to make tradition look modern.



Your graduation collection is very impressive, what was the theme behind it?

Julie — The main inspiration for my master's collection was The Dinner Party, an installation artwork by Judy Chicago from 1979 in which she set a gigantic triangular table for 39 strong women. Each place setting is dedicated to a mythical or world-famous woman that played an essential role in the history of female rights. For every woman, the artist designed a customized place setting inspired by the story of their life.

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"The design process of my graduation collection was an excellent opportunity to experiment with textiles. I tried to create fabrics with a soul and discovered that making an old fabric look modern is what I genuinely love doing."
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Where did the inspiration for your graduation project come from and how did you translate it into a fashion collection?

Julie — For my collection, I decided to use twelve of Judy Chicago's place settings as the base of my designs. What is unique about my designs is that you can wear each of my silhouettes, but you can also lay them on a table for decoration purposes. The design process was an excellent opportunity to experiment with textiles. I tried to push the boundaries and create fabrics with a soul like embroidery, hand-knits, playful drapes, and materials with a structure. By creating new fabrics, I discovered that making an old fabric look modern is what I genuinely love doing.

Dressing up for a dinner party has always been a magical experience for me so I wanted to create a collection for women who love to dress up and share their style, life vision and history. My collection is based on the image of a woman standing in front of the mirror and holding a dress. That's why every piece in my collection has a different front and back.



Besides The Dinner Party artwork by Judy Chicago, what inspires you when you are working on new designs?

Julie — Everything, I am inspired by everything that surrounds me. I love history, visual arts, music, stories, poems, feelings, famous people, icons, …



Can you tell us more about your collaboration with Essentiel Antwerp?

Julie — Essentiel Antwerp contacted me in the beginning of April when I was still working on my master's collection at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. It was very exciting to be in contact with a well-known and inspiring Belgian fashion brand. Inge (Co-founder and Creative Director, red.) and her creative team asked me to work together on two pieces: one for the A/part project and one for the Fashion Museum of Antwerp (MoMu) shop. It was so interesting to meet and work closely with the team behind the brand. During our first meeting, I took my sketchbooks with me to show them my designs and they were very enthusiastic, I was very honored.

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"Dressing up for a dinner party has always been a magical experience for me so I wanted to create a collection for women who love to dress up and share their style, life vision and history."
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What is your view on Essentiel Antwerp?

Julie — Essentiel Antwerp is a modern, playful, and vibrating brand that seeks to bring fun and colorful twists to classic styles. Not being afraid of making daring combinations is an important part of the brand's identity, which is something I really like about Essentiel Antwerp. For my personal style, I also love coming up with unexpected combinations.



How did you come up with the design of the dress you created for the A/part project with Essentiel Antwerp?

Julie — When the creative team of Essentiel Antwerp and I were going through my sketchbooks, it felt natural to choose one of the pieces of my master's Collection and to commercialize it. The concept for my collection was to work with a different front and back in every garment. We decided to work on my knit silhouette. Originally, the knitted dress had a totally open back, but we decided to close the back for the new silhouette, it totally works! The epaulettes were also toned down in a very smart way. I really enjoyed coming up with new ideas and finding solutions together with the team of Essentiel Antwerp. They were able to make some changes to the piece in order to make it saleable to a wider audience.

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"Not being afraid of making daring combinations is an important part of the Essentiel Antwerp’s identity, which is something I really like about the brand."
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Next to the knit dress, the collaboration with Essentiel Antwerp consisted of another piece. Can you tell us more about the T-shirt you created for MoMu, Antwerp's fashion museum?

Julie — My inspiration for the T-shirt also came from the artwork The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago. For the artwork's dinner table, she designed the most beautiful, handcrafted tablecloths. These tablecloths inspired me to create flat garments that you can use both as a tablecloth and as a garment.
During the design phase, I envisioned a T-shirt that you can wear to a dinner party in a fun and not too serious way. The T-shirt has two layers: the first layer is a normal T-shirt and the second one is a napkin with printed lace on top. You can play with this second layer and wear it in different ways: you can drape it or use it as a scarf.



Now that the collaboration with Essentiel Antwerp for A/part has been launched, what are your ambitions in the fashion industry?

Julie — The Royal Academy of Fine Arts was the best creative education I could dream of. I never thought it was possible to learn so much in four years. However, I'm aware that I don't really know how the real industry works and I still have a lot to learn. My biggest dream is to start my own brand after getting experience in the fashion world.

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On November 4 we organized a cute launch party in our Antwerp Flagship store to put our exciting collab with Julie Kegels in the spotlight. The night was a great success, thanks to all of the fabulous guests, the fresh drinks provided by Real Buddies and the music by Sonhouse Collection. Take a look at the pictures to soak up the atmosphere.

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Discover more about the A/part project here:
www.momu.be/en/exhibitions/a-part

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