My name is Ann Boogaerts, I'm born and raised in Genk, Belgium but I have some Czech and Walloon roots. I'm a fashion designer (womenswear) with a strong passion for crafted textile manipulations and embroideries. I studied Fashion Design at the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in The Netherlands and at the Institut Français de la Mode in Paris, France. Last year I've launched my own small semi-couture label, Atelier Milada, together with my Russian husband.
Where are you based?
I'm currently based in Genk, Belgium.
What inspires you in general?
It can be everything: from sociologic tendencies to badly cut trousers and plants.
What place/city do you find inspiring?
I find Paris inspiring. It can be such a rough city but there is so much beauty in it as well. Runner up on my list is Berlin, and then New York, Copenhagen and London.
I've created a story about a princess in a blue, baroque castle. She decides to escape when she turns eighteen and she runs through the gardens in her golden jacquard pyjamas and handmade slippers.
Describe your collection in three words.
Luxurious, handcrafted, feminine
Can you remember the first piece you designed?
Yes, it was a top made from a pink terry towel. It was hideous. I was 12 at that time.
Yes well, I grew up in a creative family.
grandfather 1: shoe maker;
grandfather 2: contemporary artist;
grandmother: artistic weaving and clothing design;
great-grandmother: hat designer;
mother: artist and jewellery designer.
So I guess it runs in my family indeed.
In general I admire women with strong characters and personalities larger than life, with pronounced taste.
Who is your favourite fashion designer?
I do admire the work of Ricardo Tisci and I must say that I'm a fan of Phoebe Philo. I still love the work of Yves Saint Laurent. I admire his colourful imagination and Mme Vionnet for here extraordinary draping skills which are, even now, still so contemporary. They have such an interesting vision on the female body.
What is so far your greatest experience in your career?
I have to say that’s a hard question for me. I've experienced some great moments like visiting the New York fashion week which was a wonderful experience. During my time in Paris I had the opportunity to meet intriguing personalities among which Suzy Menkes, Christian Toledo and the Princess of Monaco. Besides, a part of my education in Paris was to work with fashion labels. But I guess I am the happiest when I see a woman shine in a garment of our collection which suits her so well that it makes you want to hug her.
What is on your music list while you’re making your collection?
I do not listen to music at all during my work. I cannot focus with music on but I do watch TV sometimes when I sketch.
What made you smile today?
My cat "caught" a small piece of lichen on the balcony today and he brought in and put it in front of my feet as a present.
What is the latest thing you bought for yourself?
A green, oversized Chloé parka.
We are planning to consistently launch two collections a year, but they will be small. We are also doing a lot of side projects right now and we want to keep doing those things because they are fun and inspiring. Now and then we launch some pop-up limited editions like the small upcoming "Summer Fun Fruit Cake" collection which will be launched at ‘FASHIONCLASH Maastricht 2013’.
We’ve noticed there is a lot of hand working in your works. Can you tell us something about it?
I'm strongly convinced that we need to get the handcrafting skills back to our region instead of buying cheap, environmentally polluting, less-than-lovely throw-away products from low wage countries. It is absolutely insane that people still buy junk from discount retailers while people here are losing their jobs so this junk can be produced at the other side of the world at a very low cost. This is the reason why we chose to produce our collection in Europe, mainly in Belgium. With my label, I want to create beautifully hand-crafted clothing as a reaction against the throw-away society. In the future we can create employment in our city, a city that is hit so hard by the economic crisis. We need to respect the environment, ourselves and our material possessions, to think over durability but in a fashionable way.
What is the most important aptitude you think of a designer that you can teach your student?
I always tell them that they need excellent ambitions, a lot of self-control, a lot of hard work, self-criticism as well as patience and that this profession must be their deepest passion. Otherwise you just won't make it.