The Antwerp Six were a group of avant-garde fashion designers that graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts between 1980 and 1982. Established in 1988, the group was increasingly popular throughout the 1990’s and consisted of the following designers: Walter Van Beirendonch, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs, Marina Yee, Dirk Van Saene, and Ann Demeulemeester. The Antwerp Six were known for a distinctive deconstructive look that challenged typical silhouettes with hard shapes and playful use of color, graphics, and fabrics. Towards the end of the decade, the group disbanded in order to establish themselves independently as designers.
Martin Margiela is another graduate from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts who was popular during the 1990s. While he is not a formal member of the
Antwerp’s Six, he is often referred to as the seventh member for his similar style. Martin Margiela is most known for his used of recycled materials to make garments such as linings into dresses, subway posters and broken china into waistcoats, and socks and hosiery into shirts. In 1997, he was chosen to becomethe head designer for Hermes and has since opened his own design house called Maison Martin Margiela.
Alexander McQueen is another designer who became famous during the 1990’s. McQueen graduated from Central St. Martins College of Art and Design in London and showed his first collection in 1992, which was famously bought in its entirety by Vogue stylist Isabella Blow. McQueen’s work can be characterized as dramatic, technical, and emotional. Alexander McQueen was appointed head designer at Givenchy in 1997 and continued to work there and on his McQueen line throughout the 1990s. He was announced the best British fashion designer in 1996, 1997, 2001, and 2003. However, Alexander McQueen committed suicide on February 11, 2010 ending his short career.
There were numerous other designer changes that happened in the 1990’s. In 1990, Gianni Versace launched his couture line. In 1991, Anna Sui showed her first collection. In 1992, Russell Simmons launched Phat Farm Fashions. In 1993, Oscar De La Renta became the first American designer to head a Paris couture house when he took the helm at Pierre Balmain and Calvin Klein was announced the Men and Womenswear Designer of the Year. In 1995, John Galliano was appointed head designer as Givenchy and became the first British designer to head up a French couture house, the Gucci group was founded with Tom Ford as the creative director, and Jay-Z launched Rocawear. In 1997, Alexander McQueen became the head designer at Givenchy when Galliano left for Dior, Stella McCartney became the head designer at Chloe and made the decision to use no fur or leather, Marc Jacobs became the designer for Louis Vuitton, Martin Margiela became head designer for Hermes, and Diane Von Furstenburg revived fashion business with wrap-dress. In 1998, Rapper Seam Combs launched Sean John line and in 1999 Coach launched a men and women’s shoe line.
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