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Dirk Bikkembergs

Related: Antwerp fashion - Belgium


(born in 1959), fashion designer

Dirk Bikkembergs was born in Bonn, Germany, where his Flemish father was stationed at the time. He came into the world in 1959. Dirk Bikkembergs became famous for launching an original shoe collection in 1985. Later came ready-to-wear collections for men and women. The fact that Bikkembergs was determined to go his own way could already be seen from his preference for special and surprising fashion shows. Models have shown his clothes in the Gare du Nord railway station in Paris and in road tunnels at Bercy, and he has used pieces of vinyl records as invitations. The shock effect is not the primary aim: the designer makes mainly very traditional and sober clothes and shoes.

In his youth, Dirk Bikkembergs wanted to study law, because he found "lawyers so chic". However, he opted for fashion, and in 1982, he graduated as a designer at the Royal Academy of Antwerp. Bikkembergs was one of the group of designers that gained the Flemish port city an international fashion reputation (“The Antwerp Six”).

In 1985, Dirk Bikkembergs presented a line of shoes with perforated soles and highly original laces. The collection created uproar, and won him the Canette d’Or. He collected the prize the same year in Brussels. He also got himself noticed at the British Design Show in 1986. But he did not stick to shoes. Four years later, in 1989, the designer set up his own company and set off for Paris with a first menswear line. A few years later, women could also wear “Bikkembergs”. Dirk Bikkembergs was doing pretty well, his clothes were sold on nearly every continent.

The influence of Bikkembergs' origins is palpable in his designs: many of his clothes betray a preference for military aeshetics. The designer loves robust materials and simple shapes. Other characteristics of his collections are the austere lines, the abundant use of leather and many virile details, such as belts. His first women's collections were - apart from the sizes, naturally - identical to his menswear lines.

To say that Dirk Bikkembergs likes movement is an understatement. The designer divides his time between Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, London and New York, and is rarely in one place for more than a week. He describes himself as a workaholic, and told ID magazine: "I am married to fashion, and will remain faithful".

Today, Bikkembergs has three clothing and fashion articles collections: Dirk Bikkembergs, Bikkembergs White and the latest, Bikkembergs Red, launched in June 2000 at the Pitti Uomo Firenze show. --http://www.belgium.be/eportal/application?origin=indexDisplay.jsp&event=bea.portal.framework.internal.refresh&pageid=contentPage&docId=17910.0 [Jul 2004]

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