Fashion Museum Antwerp

the home of [Belgian] fashion since 2002

Introduction to MoMu with Director Kaat DeboMoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp

Join ModeMuseum’s director, Kaat Debo, on a tour of our beautiful home at the ModeNatie. In this video, you will be introduced to our exciting space, its rich history, and our mission to educate, as well as present, the best of Belgium’s designers to the world.

MoMu Façade © Annick GeenenMoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp

ModeNatie: Where Education and Display Meet

Fashion Museum Antwerp (MoMu) is a premiere fashion museum, located in Belgium's fashion epicentre Antwerp. MoMu opened its doors on September 21, 2002, with a mission to collect, conserve, exhibit, and foster the creation of Belgian fashion. Our current director Kaat Debo succeeded Linda Loppa, former director of the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

ModeNatie: One Building, One Mission, Three Organisations

You can find Fashion Museum Antwerp (MoMu) at ModeNatie on the Nationalestraat, in the heart of the Antwerp’s fashion district. Located alongside MoMu in ModeNatie are the Flanders DC for Fashion and the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Art.

MoMu Storage © Koen De Waal (2014)MoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp

ModeNatie is a unique union of conservation, presentation, and creation that furthers our aims to document and celebrate Belgium's cultural production. Built in the 19th century as a New England Menswear and Children’s department store, ModeNatie underwent a thorough renovation in 2000, led by Ghent-based architect Marie-José Van Hee with the intent to create "a context for fashion and clothing behaviour".

Selection of Nouveautés I © Hugo Maertens (1870/1900)MoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp

The Collections

MoMu's historic and contemporary permanent collections include more that 25,000 objects, mainly clothing and accessories. Over 7,000 of these have been added since 2009, thanks to new purchases, donations, and long-term loans. In addition to historic pieces, MoMu’s acquisition policy primarily focuses on purchasing pieces by contemporary Belgian designers, including renowned Academy alumni the Antwerp 6, Martin Margiela, A.F.Vandevorst, Veronique Branquinho, and Raf Simons whose silhouettes are examples of excellent craftsmanship, bold concepts, and avant-garde shapes. 

Lace coverlet [King Baudouin Foundation], 1750, From the collection of: MoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp
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Lace Coverlet

This 200 x 150cm coverlet ranks among the outstanding achievements of Belgian bobbin lace makers. It was made around 1750, and probably commissioned for a European royal family. It would have been used on special occasions. Discover more in the coverlet's dedicated exhibition

Caraco Jacket and Skirt © Hugo Maertens Caraco Jacket and Skirt © Hugo Maertens, 1750/1790, From the collection of: MoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp
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In about 1770, the combination of skirt and jacket became fashionable. Their deshabillé [informal] character nonetheless remained unchanged. Depending on the nature of the jacket, it could either be tailored, or more commonly, loosely fitted. In France, the tailored jacked acquired the name of caraco or pierrot.

Stockman Silhouette © Stany Dederen, Martin Margiela, 1997, From the collection of: MoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp
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This sleeveless jacket in linen is inspired by a Stockman tailoring dummy. By dressing the actual, living body in a dummy, which acts as a fetishized version of the female body, Maison Martin Margiela showed how foreign the standardized dummy is to the real living body.

Evening Gown © Stany Dederen, Olivier Theyskens, 2003/2004, From the collection of: MoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp
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This sophisticated silhouette was part of Olivier Theyskens's first haute couture inspired collection for Rochas. The silk dress and coat are embellished with stylised leaf patterns and bands of machine lace, and the lace reveals luxurious printed fabric underneath, showing Theyskens's sensual and romantic approach to a heritage brand.

'Happy Birthday Dear Academie', Installation view © Boy Kortekaas (2014)MoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp

Exhibition Display

Twice a year MoMu presents a new exhibition, pulled from MoMu's historic and contemporary collections, and completed with loaned works from a variety of archives. These exhibitions might outline a designer’s narrative, or focus on a specific theme as our varied programme focuses on different dimensions of the fashion world. In 2020, MoMu will open a new exhibition space dedicated to pieces from our permanent collection.

'Walter Van Beirendonck. Dream The World Awake', Installation view © Ronald StoopsMoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp

Avant-garde Scenography

In military terms, the vanguard, or in French avant-garde, is the first troops to face battle: the first push into unknown territory. The avant-garde are also artists and designers at the front lines of cultural changes. They are revolutionaries, stretching boundaries and engaging with new materials, movements, and ways of seeing.

'Walter Van Beirendonck. Dream The World Awake', Installation view © Ronald StoopsMoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp

At MoMu, our scenography is a collaborative effort to match the innovative character of the designers we proudly display.

MoMu's interdisciplinary exhibitions embrace the iconoclastic mood of the designers showcased. New commissions and multimedia productions serve the museum’s greenhouse function for accelerating new talents in the fashion and art world.

Lace coverlet [King Baudouin Foundation] (1750)MoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp

Research and Creative Programming

MoMu is dedicated to engaging the global community, with tours in four languages for each exhibition, as well as creative programmes and workshops. In our historic collection, MoMu houses everything from late 17th century lace to 19th century menswear. These historic collections serve as vivid counterpoints to more contemporary pieces, as well as being invaluable resources for scholars, journalists, and fashion students.

MoMu Library and Reading Room © Yves HenckaertsMoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp

The ModeNatie also holds the MoMu library and reading room. The library houses thousands of materials on designers from across the globe, while maintaining a focus on Belgian fashion and textiles. In our reading room, anyone can request to handle materials from our Study Collection of historic and contemporary pieces – many of which will soon be available to browse in our forthcoming online database.

Charlotte De Geyter Pittoors (2016) by Charlotte De Geyter PittoorsMoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp

Supporting the next generation

As part of MoMu's grassroots campaign to cultivate young and growing talent, the Museum awards a prize to an outstanding Masters student at the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy of Fine Art. In 2016, this award went to Charlotte De Geyter Pittoors (pictured) 

De Geyter Pittoors's collection ‘How To Catch A Fish’ won this esteemed prize with its quest for inner happiness and authenticity in a fast-paced world. After the degree show, her silhouettes were installed in MoMu’s Gallery, bringing her journey for a more contemplative life to one of Antwerp’s busiest districts.

'Maison Martin Margiela. ‘20’ The Exhibition', Installation view © Ronald StoopsMoMu - Fashion Museum Antwerp

"Is it too much to say that MoMu is one of the few museums in Belgium which enjoys a true influence and a great prestige internationally, and continues to share its knowledge in such an in-depth as well as enthusiastic way with the both specialized and non-specialized public? No, it isn’t! And is the enduring success of the Belgian fashion industry at home and abroad, not also due to… MoMu. Yes, it is!"

Chris Dercon, Art Historian and Former Director of the Tate Modern, London

Credits: Story

Thanks to the many photographer who have allowed us to use their images:
Stany Dederen, Hugo Maertens, and Boy Kortekaas (MoMu collections/scenography photoshoots)
Sonja De Wolf
Yves Henckaerts
Tim Stoops
Ronald Stoops

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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