The Belgian Fashion Awards are back after a year’s absence. For the fourth time, a multitude of Belgian designers and fashion industry people are being honoured during a festive evening at Antwerp’s event venue, the Handelsbeurs.

To close the successful and sold-out Fashion Talks event organised by Flanders DC, the Belgian Fashion Awards will be presented for the fourth time on Thursday, 25 November. It was originally launched to put the Belgian fashion scene in the spotlight. It both celebrates and highlights those who work behind the scenes and provides a stage for lesser-known names and new talent.

The 14-member international jury presided over by jury chairman Chris Dercon, who is president of the Grand Palais in Paris, handed out no less than seven awards. Besides the Belgian art historian, the jury also included fashion designer Christian Wijnants (BE), Pascale Mussard (FR), and Vena Brykalin of Vogue Ukraine.

Belgian Fashion Awards 2021 – design by Wouter Hoste – photo by J. Van Belle – WBI

The awards themselves this year are a creation of the Antwerp designer and ceramist Wouter Hoste. Each winner will receive a unique copy.

This year’s Jury Prize goes to fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck. The international jury praised the Belgian designer for the influential and social contributions that he translates into his designs.

Water Van Beirendonck

His influence extends across generations. ‘Walter Van Beirendonck appeals to an international audience. In particular, his designs give his views on politics, gender, and equality a voice even in Covid times. He was present more than ever before on the international scene in the last two years,‘ concluded the jury’s verdict.

Nicolas Di Felice

The Designer of the Year award goes to the 38-year-old Nicolas Di Felice, the new man at the French fashion house Courrèges. After graduating from the La Cambre in Brussels, he gained experience under Nicolas Ghesquière at Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton. His first autumn-winter collection was met with international applause. The jury praised him for the ‘unlikely and brave work he has done over the last two years. It’s not easy to take over a fashion house that has a strong imprint and give it your own flair.’

Meryll Rogge

And young fashion designer Meryll Rogge received the Emerging Talent of the Year award because of her aesthetic and challenging way of working. The jury’s decision was unanimous: ‘It’s been a long time since we’ve seen such a success story for someone so young. Not only does she already have a distinct style, but she also continues to challenge herself.’ In addition to a €5,000 prize, the Fashion & Lace Museum of Brussels is purchasing a silhouette of her for their permanent collection.

Belgian art director, stylist, and photographer Benoit Bethume was awarded the Professional of the Year prize. ‘In addition to his creative contribution, he is one of the rare critical voices in the fashion industry,’ the jury said.

Resortecs @ Supernova in Antwerp

A Changemaker from the fashion industry will also be celebrated for the first time. This category was created to give a voice to someone who influences the industry in an innovative way. This honor was given to Resortecs. The young Brussels-based company looks to contribute to a world in need of innovative solutions. They do this by taking an industrial approach to the recycling process, which includes the development of high-tech easy-to-recycle yarn.

The Liège fashion brand Imprévu, founded by Justine God in 2016, walked away with the Audience Award for Fashion Brand of the Year.

Lili Schreiber

Lili Schreiber, who received her master’s degree from the Brussels institute La Cambre earlier this year, is awarded the prize for Promising Graduate. And finally, fashion label Bernadette wins the UPR award from the eponymous PR and communications agency. They can count on their professional assistance for one year.

All winners at a glance

  • The Jury Prize 2021: Walter Van Beirendonck
  • Designer of the Year 2021: Nicolas Di Felice
  • Professional of the Year 2021: Benoit Bethume
  • Changemaker of the Year 2021: Resortecs
  • Emerging talent of the Year 2021 & Prize from the Fashion & Lace Museum, Brussels: Meryll Rogge
  • Most Promising Graduate 2021: Lili Schreiber
  • Fashion fire of the Year 2021, audience award: Imprevu
  • Belgian Fashion Awards x UPR prize: Bernadette

The international jury

  • Chris Dercon (BE), chairperson of Réunion des musées nationaux-Grand Palais, Paris
  • Giancarlo Angeletti (BE), founder and owner of VIER Antwerp
  • Vena Brykalin (UA), art director Vogue Ukraine
  • Serge Carreira, head of the Emerging Brands Initiative, Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode
  • Eve Demoen (BE), curator of the Hasselt Fashion Museum
  • Elisa De Wyngaert (BE), curator of the MOMU, Antwerp
  • Angelo Flaccavento (IT), freelance fashion journalist for media organisations like the Business Of Fashion
  • Catherine Gauthier (BE), curator of the Mode & Lace Museum, Brussels
  • Alex Keller (DE), ex-CEO Jil Sander, commercial director Balenciaga and Martin Margiela
  • Christopher Morency (CAN), editorial director HighSnobiety
  • Pascale Mussard (FR), chairman of the Festival de Hyères
  • Guillaume Steinmetz (FR), founder of The Broken Arm, Paris
  • Marie-Hélène Vanderborght (BE), journalist, C’est du Belge, RTBF
  • Christian Wijnants (BE), fashion designer & winner of the BFA Designer of the Year 2019