When life meets fashion TEXT: CHARLOTTE VAN HEK | PHOTOS: SOPHIE RATA
After a prêt-à-porter collection and shows in Paris, Anna Heylen has anchored down in her atelier in Antwerp. “It is my ultimate goal to make a woman feel beautiful, feel celebrated. Where better to do that than in my own shop?” Located in a former warehouse of 1904 in Antwerp, Maison Anna Heylen designs couture pieces and wedding gowns next to her own collection, welcoming both walk-in visitors and customers with an 58 | Issue 31 | July 2016
appointment. Customers visit from every corner of the world. “Recently we had a Japanese customer, spreading her visit over two days. She told us they were the most special days she had spent in a long time. That touches me greatly.”
DOLLS It was in 1993 that Heylen created her DOLLS: an installation of 120 identical, faceless, hairless, and sexless dolls that she suspended from practically invisible threads. It was her breakthrough. The
DOLLS acquired an individual identity through the clothing that Heylen had designed for them. “I created DOLLS from the idea of sameness. No matter what age, colour or sex: we are all equals living together in this world. Expressing yourself is an art, and something you can do with fashion.” Latex, wool, paper, jute and even glass, everything was used to dress up the DOLLS. They quickly became legends and travelled the world, ending up at international museums and galleries. They are still going strong.