We don’t know about you, but sometimes the stress of clothes shopping and the decision making-induced panic is so overwhelming, that we’d like a brief lie down and wish it would all just go away. Funny then, that we should happen upon this hospital bed in the middle of the women’s wear floor at Selfridges! Hang on, we’ll stop being silly, it is actually a clever art installation/pop up shop from uber cool Belgian designers A.F. Vandevorst. Who describe it as ‘a travelling installation where both fashion and art interact, creating a unique experience for the customer as well as being a unique and special atmosphere for A.F. Vandevorst’s designs. Oh, and they’ve called it The Smallest Travelling Store in the World.
The couple, An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx met back in 1987 at the first day at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp where they studied together. Ten years later they launched their first collection as A.F. Vandevorst at Paris Fashion week and never looked back. Their ready to wear collections are typically Antwerp in character, they favour dark colours and multi-functional pieces that can be layered one on top of another to achieve an underground, almost warrior-like cool exterior.
We spoke to the pair in person and Filip and An explained that they decorate all their shops with medical equipment because;
‘When we created our first store in Belgium, we always worked in abandoned buildings and empty spaces. We loved the idea of hospital furniture and equipment and found it to be highly practical to display the clothes’
Filip then talked me through the set up – ‘You see here we have the jacket merchandised on the bed, the rail to hand the garments on, this small night table where we can have lookbooks or publications. This TV is showing the footage from our Autumn Winter collection and in this cabinet we have displayed shoes and accessories’
The whole shebang is welded together as a unit and can be folded up to facilitate travel. ‘We can set it up anywhere in two hours’ reveals An; ‘and then pack it away in two hours. When it finishes at Selfridges we will take it to Toronto, then other spots include Art Basel Miami and New York.’ So the hospital is on tour, we asked? ‘Yes’ confirmed Filip. ‘Like a rock and roll band’
- Naomi Attwood