Discover Benelux, Issue 31, July 2016

Page 59

Discover Benelux | Antwerp | Top fashion & design boutiques

Heylen graduated from the prestigious Royal Academy of the Fine arts in Antwerp in 1990. “A valuable time. It taught me perseverance. That is something you need in life anyway, but the Academy enhanced that greatly.” In 1996, the first women’s collection appeared, following a request from Paris to make a small collection. In no time Heylen’s clothes were selling from nine different stores and a new collection was created every six months. “It all went very fast: an international clientele; flagship stores; and international fashion shows.”

No trends, season or sales Seven years ago, Heylen decided to turn the ship around and open her own fashion house. “After a few very successful years I decided to quit the system. The general meaning of fashion, technically a popular style or practice, does not work for me. Fashion to me means style and practice, but not necessary popular. It is this popularity that demands a new collection every six months and the participation in seasonal sales, resulting in the loss of exclusivity and high-quality fabrics and finishing. Clothing should not be designed to end up in a half-price bin a few months later – that is meaningless fashion. A beautiful item of clothing is for life.”

As a reaction, Anna Heylen designs ‘antipopular’ and trend transcending clothing. Not only are the designs exclusive, the execution is exclusive as well. It makes the women who wear her clothes distinguished, elegantly passing trendsetters. Being far away from the catwalks, Maison Anna Heylen could focus completely on its own philosophy. “For me, fashion is about enhancing someone’s uniqueness and beauty with pure pieces.” A central thread has been the use of high-quality fabrics, ingenious techniques, and handmade pieces. When ordering a garment nothing is impossible: hand-painted materials, sequinning – Heylen’s artistic craftsmanship results in a timeless piece that is distinctive in every possible way.

Back to basics The experimental creativity with materials that Heylen used to dress her DOLLS would later translate into her clothing designs. “My designs are characterised by a broad range of influences and inspiration. I experiment with volume, materials and techniques. Take a doublefaced cloak, a garment with no real inside or outside, you can wear it on both sides. That requires absolute craftsmanship to make. And a lot of time and love!”

Travelling lies in Heylen’s nature. “I am always on the road. I travelled to Mongolia, to see and feel the basis of cashmere, an absolute treasure of fabric and something I use in my collections. During my travels I had an interesting encounter with a local resident, resulting in a precious collaboration: all the cashmere we use in our collection is being knitted in Mongolia.” Recycling has been used in Heylen’s collections for years. Take the handmade scarves with recycled fur accents, or a timeless waistcoat finished with recycled fur. “If the basics are good, fashion can live a very long life.” Maison Anna Heylen embodies the fact that above all, fashion is exclusive and personal – and made for real people. “I design for every woman. Someone’s age or size does not matter; quality is for everyone. Any woman is entitled to feel beautiful and celebrated.” www.annaheylen.be - make an appointment for unmatched personal service *Anna’s DOLLS will be shown during Documenta 14 in Athens – one of the largest and most prestigious art events in the world from April 2017

Issue 31 | July 2016 | 59