Filip Arickx and An Vandervorst launched their collection in Paris in 1998 after meeting at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Currently based in Belgium the collection is a complete women’s ready-to-wear line comprising of shoes, handbags and accessories. Since 2009 the couple has promoting TSTSITW, an installation where fashion and art can interact.
How did the idea for The Smallest Traveling Store In The World (TSTSITW) come about?
First we had guerilla-stores in Belgium, which were sort of squats that we would build a store in for three to six months. They were decorated as small hospitals. People liked the concept, and soon after we had a few demands from abroad. It was too difficult to find empty spaces, staff, furniture and a good organiser to lead the project, so we found a solution, which is The Smallest Travelling Store in The World. Our first stop was London, in 2010.
Is opening a traditional store of your own something you hope to do in the future?
Oh sure! But first, let’s enjoy this concept.
Does it usually strengthen your distribution in a new city?
Yes! There’s always a lot of attention and people are very curious to discover the installation.
How many different cities has it already been to?
It was at Dover Street Market in London, Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Paris, Arnhem in the Netherlands, and now it’s in New York. Next stop is Montreal.
Patron Of The New in New York City is a great spot for your installation. Can you tell us about the set you created?
It was meant to represent the A. F. Vandervorst image inspired by the starkness of hospital furnishings. The set begins with a hospital bed that is connected to a screen and a rack to display the current seasons collections. It includes a closet, antique dentists lamp, cabinet as well as a television.
It is quiet large, how did you get it all here?
It was all shipped to New York in two big crates by air. (It will be at Patron of the New till 23rd of February.)
In what ways do you collect new inspiration for each collection other than from hospitals and references to Russian military?
A lot of other things inspire us and belong to the DNA of the brand, but uniforms and hospitals keep on inspiring us. I even don’t know why but that concept especially absorbs us.
You normally show in Paris or Berlin. Do you have any desire to do New York Fashion Week?
We would love to show in New York, but the staff and teams all live in Paris and Belgium so this is the most efficient way to work.
Of all the Antwerp designers –Olivier Theyskens, Haider Ackermann, Ann Demeulemeester, Veronique Branquinho – you are one of the few who never worked for another brand or joined a conglomerate. Would you be open to those things?
Yes, but until now we did not find the right match yet. It really needs to be someone who understands us and is willing or has the means to go even deeper in our story because there’s still so much to tell!
What about costume design, you’ve worked on a few productions in the past, is there a particular show you’d like to work on?
There are a few movie directors we’d love to work with, but the way the collaboration starts and evolves is much more important. At this moment we’re working on the costumes of an opera, Le Duc d’Albe, which will come out on May 6th in Belgium.
At this point in your career could you imagine doing anything other than designing? What would it be if so?
When we were kids An & me both wanted to become dancers. For some physical reasons this never could happen. So if it can’t be a dancer, no, we don’t know what to be instead of a designer of emotions.