Dirk Bikkembergs: From Strength To Strength
MILAN, Jul 22, 2003/ FW/--- Once in a while, a young designer comes along who goes from strength to
strength, and there is no question on what path lies ahead.
Such is the case with Dirk Bikkembergs, a Belgian born in Germany (Jan 2, 1959), and part
of the avant-garde fashion designers whom Antwerp keeps on turning out from the Royal
Academy of Fine Arts.
After getting his diploma in 1982, young Bikkembergs worked for various Belgian fashion
companies to get his 'hands on experience' in fashion.
Three years later, he was awarded the prestigious, "Golden Spindle award for Best Young
Designer in Fashion" which became his springboard in launching his own label.
The first "Dirk Bikkembergs" line was shoes, a collaboration with a Belgian shoe manufacturer,
and was launched in 1986.
This collection will be the precursor of all the young designer's line - revolutionary and
masculine, based on a specific man.
The silhouette is strong, intense and solid, which will be Bikkemberg's signature style.
Needless to say, the shoe collection was a success. Not one to sit on his laurels, Bikkembergs
added apparel the next year.
In January 1987, "Dirk Bikkembergs Man" was launched, a collection of knitwear for men.
A year later, "Dirk Bikkembergs Man" will debut at the Paris runway, showing a full men's
And like most men's luxury labels, the apparel are made in Italy. Dirk Bikkemberg's
Spring / Summer 1989 collection were all manufactured in Italy and a result of a collaboration
with Italian manufacturers.
For three years, Bikkembergs will work on establishing himself in the fashion world,
and take direct control of production. He also fully governed his image direction.
That move will prove to be very fruitful. Bikkembergs created a name with an identity,
quality and realiable delivery. Solidity rather than celebrity.
In 1992, Dirk Bikkemberg's woman's line was launched.
Stripped of the 'macho elements' which is the signature of the menn's line, the
women's collection was all about sexiness, power and confidence.
For the first shows the women joined the men on the stage and walked together, even wearing
essentially the same garment but with a fit for women.
Macho strength manifests itself into sexy power for women with their identity and femininity
maintained, indeed strengthened.
In 1997, five years after the launch of his women's line, Dirk Bikkemberg launched his
diffusion line (white label) simply named "Bikkembergs."
The collection inherits the very essence of "Dirk Bikkembergs", with the same strength,
character and performance.
A parallel collection of timeless recognisable signature pieces defined through Dirk's
vision of cut and innovative use of fabrics.
From the beginning it has never been perceived as a second line and it has a distinctive
personality on its own.
It is more relaxed and less designed. It is a more accessible collection of alternative,
simplified, basic and technical pieces that are made to precise standards with attention
to a quality finish and casual detail.
The person who wears "Dirk Bikkembergs "should also wear "Bikkembergs".
It is the same man. A "Bikkembergs t-shirt under a "Dirk Bikkembergs jacket.
"Dirk Bikkembergs" provides the roots and everything else branches out from there.
When 2000 rolled around, Dirk was ready to tackle another project.
And like with everything he does, he did with with aplomb.
At the Pitti Uomo Trade Fair in Florence Italy, where he was special guest in June 2000,
Dirk launched a new collection: Bikkembergs Jeans and Streetwear (red label).
Central to the launch was the G8 jean. Dirk had spent much of the previous two years
sculpting and diligently refining a pair of denims.
The result is a pair of jeans that are strikingly human, in contrast with the irrevocably
industrial feel of the last decade of denim.
This human aspect has always been an obsession for jeans designers but somehow they always
manage to miss the point: from stone washed to industrial-soiled, manufacturing has been
aimed solely at recreating the "used" quality, but the essence of a used pair of jeans can't
Dirk has given his jeans a body and soul, a skin and a history.
Dirk has now made his message clear. By proving he can make innovative clothes in a uniquely
structured shape. By being so assured with the man he wishes to dress, Dirk's collections
have always been strong, vivid and liberal, almost elaborate, but this creative generosity
helped make his message clear, there was no water in the wine.
Dirk has spent the last 15 years modelling a creative spirit. At the start of 2000 Dirk
extracted one drop from all the work done in the past to be as concise as he could be.
Dirk sees not just a new range of clothes but a genuinely new philosophy to bring clothes
close to their purest form: garments without any relation to fashion terms, seasons, or
His clothes and shoes are a statement which will not fade after six months, but which will
endure for years.
The extracted drop will start a new era of purity, a renaissance, a cleansing process
Dirk feels that the latter part of the 20th century has been about communications through
only our eyes, that we have built a society, which stares and yells.
In the new era we will develop our other senses as profoundly allowing us to listen
carefully and be sensitive in taste and feeling.
Dirk Bikkembergs shows his men's collection in Milan and his women's collection in Paris.
(Photo above: Dirk Bikkembergs on the runway Fall 2004. Photo by
Click on image to read the review and view the collection.