You are here:

Belgium Momentum: Third Fashion Edit-a-thon in Antwerp

The books come out: Photo: Christin and Monica Ho, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0

On a humid September day, fashion enthusiasts, Wikipedians, archivists and students met at MoMu – Fashion Museum Province of Antwerp in Belgium to improve and expand fashion knowledge on Wikipedia.

The event was co-organised by Europeana Fashion partner MoMu and Wikimedia Netherlands. It marks the third Europeana Fashion edit-a-thon and the first one with an actual theme, which was Belgian fashion. After a meet-and-greet breakfast, the morning started with a brief introduction on MoMu’s collections and how it contributes to Europeana Fashion by Gabriëlle de Pooter. Romaine from Wikimedia Belgium then gave a detailed overview of the world of Wikipedia. After these introductions, it was time to write!

Introduction time. Photo: Christin and Monica Ho, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0

The Flemish Fashion Institute (FFI) and researcher Sarah Heynssens had prepared a helpful list of Belgian Fashion topics that deserve more attention on the Dutch-language Wikipedia. The list included names of Belgian fashion designers, brands, organizations, and jewelers. It was extensive. With more names than I expected and with names that I had certainly never seen before. But others knew right away which articles they wanted to edit or create and the MoMu library was more than prepared. When I asked the librarian for a specific old copy of Elle Magazine I didn’t think there was any possibility of her having it. Five minutes later she returned from the library, copy in hand, so fresh and crisp it appeared as if it had just come off the newsstand.

Touring the Antwerp Fashion Museum

The extensiveness of the list and available resources served as a testament to MoMu’s, Antwerp’s and Belgium’s fashion history. This wealth of knowledge and depth of expertise became more apparent during the tour of the school’s Happy Birthday Dear Academie-50 years Fashion Department exhibition. A perk of participating in the edit-a-thon.

The exhibition shows all graduates' names from the past 50 years. Photo: Christin and Monica Ho, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0

The exhibition begins with a timeline that lines the building’s main stairwell. Visitors can see the school’s incredible development and progression in the timeline as they make their way up the stairs; from Mary Prijot’s classical, subdued approach and the subsequent silhouettes students created to Linda Loppa encouraging for students to be individualistic and avant-garde. These changes become even more apparent inside the exhibition itself, which showcases pieces from decades of graduates. The works range from subdued colors and silhouette to avant-garde and aggressive, showcasing the diversity and individualism of the students as well as the influence their professors had on them. However, the underlying themes are never lost and the collections are harmonious and inspiring.

Pinning down the Antwerp 6 (+ 1)

A large section is dedicated to the “Antwerp 6”. For those who do not know, the Antwerp 6 (+1, in fact) were a group of students from 1980-1982 who chose to rebel against the pedagogical vision of Mary Prijot. The 6 +1 (Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Walter Van Beirendonck, Marina Yee, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs—and Martin Margiela) were inspired by the punk scene and inspired one another to push themselves and fashion boundaries. After much struggle due to the fact that they were from Antwerp, not exactly a fashion Mecca at that time, the 6 +1 went on to great international success and are still regarded as the individuals who put Antwerp on the fashion map.

The home stretch. Photo: Christin and Monica Ho, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0

After the tour it was up to us to put Belgian fashion on the Wiki map. Inspired by the tour we went back to work finishing up our articles, editing, and uploading. With the wealth of information available in the library we could have stayed all night but alas time was up. Many participants noted that they wanted to add more to their articles and planned on finishing up at home or the next day. Sometimes things take time.

The Belgian fashion scene was not built in one day. It took years of hard work, devotion, pride and rule breaking for Antwerp to make a name for itself in the fashion world. And today it stands near the top. While not all topics were covered during the edit-a-thon (the list was four pages long), Europeana Fashion successfully made a dent thanks to MoMu’s incredible library, the patient tutelage of our on-hand Wikipedia experts, and the hard work of all the volunteers.

More information