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Feathers in Flanders: my internship at the Fashion Museum Antwerp

Last February third-year Branding student Charlotte de Gier moved from Amsterdam to Antwerp for a five month internship at the Fashion Museum (ModeMuseum Provincie Antwerpen). On amfi.nl she gives us a short insight into her experiences at the MoMA.

‘The city of the Antwerp Six, the Modepaleis, the Fashion Department of the Royal Academy and of course the Fashion Museum of Antwerp are all welcoming young fashion professionals like me. A city where you could literally drop dead from shopping, considering the enormous amount of small boutiques and big chain stores. Antwerp is a city where fashion is constantly alive and reinventing itself – as is the Fashion Museum in Antwerp.

The ‘Birds of Paradise’ exhibition. Credit: Boy Kortekaas.

The ‘Birds of Paradise’ exhibition. Credit: Boy Kortekaas.

During high school my interests in art and fashion became more significant, so searching for an internship among museums and art galleries seemed like a perfect fit. The Fashion Museum in Antwerp hosts two different exhibitions each year. The museum is closed for an entire month during February and September to close the previous exhibition and setting up the new one. My internship promised to be a busy term, with the dismantling of the previous exhibition, the opening of a new exhibition, several events and the beginning of the museum’s autumn exhibition. The first few weeks preparing the current exhibition ‘Birds of Paradise’ was my main focus point. From arranging flyers and posters at several print shops, to organising the opening evening and blogger event, February and March were packed with a range of different tasks.

Blogger event in the Fashion Museum. Credit: Bram Laebens.

Blogger event in the Fashion Museum. Credit: Bram Laebens.

I was lucky enough to still catch a glimpse of the ‘Happy Birthday Dear Academie: 50 years Fashion Department’ exhibition and to help with storing and replacing pieces from the museum. This meant taking around 50 mannequins from the museum space to the atelier and disassembling them. Who knew there are companies specialised in producing mannequins in different poses and unique facial expressions? I think I’ve seen nearly every single possibility at this point. I was actually double lucky: the organisational skills I developed during projects like Triptiek and whilst following my minor Fashion & Visual Culture at AMFI gave me the foundation I needed during this crowded period.

Exclusive pieces in the storage of the museum.

Exclusive pieces in the storage of the museum.

After the start of the current exhibition ‘Birds of Paradise’, I worked in in the communication- and press department. The exhibition is an ode to the use of plumes and feathers in fashion and haute couture. The elegant character of the feather is the central theme among a mixture of couture dresses, garments and historical accessories. Artist Kate McGwire, who works with pigeon and crow feathers to create engaging and organic art pieces, participated in the exhibition. The craft of the plumassier is highlighted in some of the designs of Dior and Chanel in collaboration with the renowned Maison Lemarié, renowned for their feather embroidery techniques.

Erfgoeddag in the MoMu-library. Credit: Suzan Rylant

Erfgoeddag in the MoMu-library. Credit: Suzan Rylant

During the last couple of months I had the chance to help and organize two events in the museum. One was the Symposium, an event where speakers from different countries shared their personal fascination with plumes and feathers. The second was Erfgoeddag, an annual cultural event for all Flemish museums focusing on keeping heritage alive. Partly because of many changes going on simultaneously, I had a big responsibility in organizing these events. I could really take charge in making decisions, which was a huge advantage during my internship at the MoMu. From the very beginning I could work independently, which made me immediately feel like a part of the MoMu-team.

Addressing the guests during the Symposium. Credit: Suzan Rylant

Addressing the guests during the Symposium. Credit: Suzan Rylant

There are so many different proceedings when it comes to creating a new fashion exhibition, such as contact with loan providers, creating concepts and scenarios, inviting the right people to opening nights, organizing corresponding events and so on. With all these responsibilities, there was never a boring moment. From flipping through old fashion magazines in the MoMu-library to emailing with fashion professionals, my experience at the Fashion Museum in Antwerp was a true eye-opener and makes me aspire to continue my journey in the world of fashion exhibitions.’

Text by Charlotte de Gier, third-year Fashion & Branding student.

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