€125,00

Material: Fleece – 100% Cotton

“Legs” printed on the front

“X” graphic in embroidery at the back under the neck line

-Embroidery ton sur ton

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JURGI PERSOONS
by Silvia Bombardini

“Turning to classicism from the age of Jackie O., Jurgi Persoons attacks stiff elegance with an Edward Scissorhands self-conscious finesse” wrote Purple magazine back in the 90s. Born near Brussels in 1969, Persoons was a graduate from the Antwerp Academy’s fashion department a decade or so after the Antwerp Six, and following a brief stint as Walter van Beirendonck’s assistant on his Wild & Lethal Trash jeans line, W. & L.T., launched his own label in 1996. Now keep in mind, these were proto-internet times: few brands had a website then, and fashion, it’s said, really did move as slow as the seasons. They were times when ambition, engagement, and the right kind of low-budget improvisation could still get you a long way, and not three years had passed that Persoons was showing in Paris – where Purple editors among many others would wax poetic about his talent, pen-on-paper. To call them shows though, does not quite do them justice. His collections, with titles like Re-interpretation of english classic man clothes by a lazy rich girl, or Anorexic young girl alone in her grandmother’s Benidorm residence, were introduced via unique displays that toed the line of performance art, in settings such as the Musée d’Art Moderne or the basement at the Centre Pompidou. Rookie models stood each in their own glass cage, or laid down still on slanted mirrors, and it was the audience who walked around them, their roles reversed. The young designer was inspired by politics and power, and a will to elevate the notion of beauty beyond the decorative, with an often sinister twist. “Although some of my images could be considered violent, and maybe evoke discomfort, my fashion is always based on love” he once said. The images he speaks of are the work of genius of a legendary makeup and photography duo, Inge Grognard and Ronald Stoops, and the well known graphic designer Paul Boudens, who chronicled Persoons’ collections faithfully from the first to the last, which came way too soon. In the early 00s, Persoons’ line was booming in the US – sold at 18 premium stores, like the Kirna Zabête boutique. His designs were part of the Belgian Fashion: Antwerp Style exhibition at New York’s institute of Technology in 2001. Shortly after that, 9/11 happened. The brand’s newest collection, due to show in New York during those days, never left the airport, and by the time it was sent back to Paris, no American buyer felt safe enough to travel by plane. Persoons lost all of his clients at once, and three seasons later, bankruptcy was filed. It was 2003, and he was 34 years old.  As he said “We all had the dream of the Six. We all thought we could be like Dries and Ann. In the 90s a lot of talent graduated with that mentality. Fantastic that you have an initial idea of what you want to do, but that doesn’t mean you’re a business genius. I got offered licenses and deals but refused them, wanting to do it like Dries did. I said “no, Dries also doesn’t do licenses either”. That was bullshit, maybe I should have taken those chances. But then again, I was young and well… you learn those things afterwards – don’t you?”

Since then, his archive resides at the MoMu in Antwerp, where just last year, a pair of heel-only shoes in wood and leather from his spring/summer ‘97 collection were featured in a new exhibition, Footprint. Persoons himself, meanwhile, had been working at his partner’s printing company until he decided to take up teaching five years ago – Chicago, Berlin, then KABK in The Hague, where he was appointed in 2013 to lead the department of Fashion & Textiles. That’s where he now trains the next generation of designers, who, he reminds us, are not artists: for how well his work fits in museums, Persoons always believed that clothes are objects of consumption, and the most beautiful may well be those that show the signs of having been worn for a very long time. Still, that’s a quality his creations often had from the start. Take his fall/winter ’99 collection, for instance, all frayed edges and torn lace. “The collection is all about the trauma of clothes” he told i-D at the time, “you see clothes and you destroy them; afterwards you feel pity and want to rescue them but it’s too late. This is like relationships, killing your darlings”. Jurgi Persoons, once a notably press-shy designer who spoke in parables, now prepares his pupils for the perpetual spotlight that defines our time, for the vulnerability that comes with exposure in the golden age of the web. He teaches them how to be open, and sensitive, how to be critical and how never to be nice. Because “the fashion world is waiting for a new kind of fresh idealism”, as much now as it always was – and while we’ve got so much still to learn from the past, there’s a whole lot of future ahead of us, too.

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color

black, white

size

Extra large, Large, Medium, small

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