An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx, the design team behind A.F.Vandevorst are not driven by a combative give-take dynamic in which the friction between two creative minds throws off sparks of ingenuity. Thinking, designing and other thousands of small things are elementary to building a collection all done by the two of us or better, the one of us.

Arickx describes An as having grown up surrounded by contemporary art which nurtured her own artistic impulses. First An experimented on her own appearance, she wanted to express herself and create things, and she thought she’d surely find a way in fashion.

Vandevorst tells the story of a young boy growing up in a hardworking family whose parents taught him that to enjoy things was the major goal in life. “He was looking for a way to express his enthusiasm; he knew that for a lot of people, personal appearance is one of the main concerns, so he decided to go deeply into that subject.”

The two met in 1987, on their first day of classes at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Art. After graduating in 1991, Arickx who as a teenager had worked for Dirk Bikkembergs, went to fulfil his military obligations, while Vandevorst became the assistant to Dries Van Noten. They presented their first collection together as A.F.Vandevorst in Paris in March 1998. They are not interested in clothes as a means of transformation, but as an expression of an interior landscape or, in their words “adding a certain value by creating a transparent packing of the inner”.

If somewhere a woman ends up with what she sees merely as a few beautiful pieces of clothing, there is reward for them in that. It’s like raising a child. You put so much of yourself into it and then you have to give it away.