Antwerp-based fashion designer Christian Wijnants is the founder and creative force behind his eponymous label. He is known for his charming, romantic designs using detail-orientated fabrics with an emphasis on feminine silhouettes.
Born in Belgium, Wijnants studied fashion design at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Wijnants’ final year collection won the Dries Van Noten Award for best collection in 2000. After two years spent training under Dries Van Noten, Wijnants launched his own label in 2003. These days, his designs are sold at the likes of Barneys, Harvey Nichols and Opening Ceremony.
Between meetings and setting up his second store in Hong Kong, Wijnants took some time out to talk to Butterboom about the challenges of being a designer.
What’s a typical work day like for you?
There is not really a typical day for me as every day is a different kind of work. That’s what I like about my job, it is very diverse and it never stops. Each season we work differently depending on the inspiration of the collection, the team and the season.
What do you love about living in Antwerp?
It is a very inspirational city, I love it’s cultural heritage and historical influences. Also, it is nestled in the heart of Europe and you can reach cities like Paris, London, Amsterdam or Berlin in less than two hours.
How would your friends describe you?
Positive with a creative mind.
Why did you choose fashion as your creative outlet?
My grandmother was an artist and my family was always interested in art and music. From a young age I was inspired by fashion as it is creative in many ways. I love the fact that it allows for creativity around the body and around people.
What do you love most about being a designer?
That you can be part of someone’s life by dressing unknown people. I love the idea that someone will wear my design in another part of the globe. You can also express yourself with textiles and shapes, colors and prints.
What is the most challenging part about being a designer?
The multi-tasking: you need to be good at so many things, from the business side to the most creative part.
Are there any key elements that you carry through all your designs?
I love knitwear and prints. They are always present in the collections. I learned how to knit from my mother and since then I find it fascinating to experiment with it.
What are your top three ladies must-haves for the summer?
- The printed dresses inspired by artist Brancusi. He was the starting point of the collection as I love his sculptures and visited his atelier in Paris.
- The tubular knits that we develop from circular machines in Japan.
- The panelled dresses with layers of hand frayed silks.
What is the method to your design process?
I design in very different ways: sometimes sketching, sometimes directly by molding on the mannequin. Also fabrics and textile research can be the starting point for some designs. Every season I try to work in a different way and to challenge myself to explore new ways of work. I don’t want to repeat myself, and like to experiment with garments and textiles. At the beginning of each season I spend a lot of time working on my moodboard and getting my imagination into a new world, a new dream.