Recently I got very inspired by a lot of people. I love several disciplines and when people combine aesthics, purity and dreams within them, I want to know all about it. I met Elisabeth Claes a while ago on summer picknick, hosted by my very inspiring friend Charlotte, about whom I hope to write someday soon too. When visiting her for the interview, Elisabeth welcomed me with two beautiful cats in the atelier, some Yogi tea and a very pleasant hospitality. Even though some of her works have abstract, the warmth is present in all of them.
Why I also find this girl very inspiring, is because of the risks that she is always taking. As a child and a teenager, she always dreamed of becoming an actress. She worked on this dream for years and genuinely believed that this would be her only possible future. After having studied at the famous Herman Teirlinck school in Antwerp, Elisabeth took another direction in life. She found out that when a dream becomes too predetermined and doesn’t go as planned, you are not allowed to give up. She could have quit and lost faith in herself, but she did completely the opposite, which brought her so far.
How to wear theatricality
Last year she graduated at the fashion department of KASK in Gent. Theatricality was still present, but now in a different shape. The lines between fashion and theatre are very blurry, when it comes to a rehearsed performance, with costumes, models as actors, a stage, photography and emotion. Elisabeth designed beautiful collections, which also have a specific concept and long research process with them. Most important to mention is that Elisabeth has a strong fascination with the body.
Transforming the dream and the drama
What I notice from her different collections and the stories she told me, that growing and transforming are important notions. Just like in her professional carreer, she is transforming the body by extensions, details, dreams and drama. It is not of importance that the body is a perfect sculpture, but the process of a sculpture being made I guess. Elisabeth designs clothing, but also makes hyper-real and beautiful shoes, jewelry and sceneries in total. Maybe this decision of hers to enter the fashion world is even an extension of the theatre dream she had. She is taking it further by making a whole new play-world and scenery, drenched in mystique, pastels, shape and myths.
The work she makes is beautiful, but it is not only about beauty. Elisabeth started to metamorphose her working process too along with that of her own growth. Highly intuitive she combines pictures, moodboards, shapes and blends them into an unknown outcome, of which she only later revises what actually inspired her at the time of creation. Some of her inspirations are Pipilotti Rist, Rebecca Horn and Martin Margiela. Marina Yee was her mentor during the creation of one of her collections at the academy in Gent. What an honor! But, also drawings from Devendra Banhart and filmmaker Sofia Coppola inspire her to create dreamscapes for your body.
© Alexander Meeus
Dreaming before deciding
As you can notice from “The Person You Love is 72,8 % Water” and “When I Grow Up”, she truely focusses on a body, growing, changing and dreaming. After her last collection, she took another direction in the creative process. She has mastered the skill of intuitive working and realized that the mythological explanations are beautiful, but her mystical collections don’t necessarily need a strict background and narrative to accompany them. She works with from her own instinct, moodboards and experiments with all of that. It gives her the ability to think about what inspired her after the work is created, instead of deciding that in advance.
Tales about metamorphoses, the Hopi Indians and the dimension after the death of a loved one are themes that she encompassed in her mysterious but perfectly designed dream jewels and clothes. Nature, love, growth and intuitition seem to be omnipresent in her collections. I see a strong analogy between her change in working procedure and the personal traject she has followed. Elisabeth started off from ideologies, but is now following dreams. Just like she had defined herself to become an actress and nothing else, she switched ways and followed another hidden dream.
Birth of Intuition
The latest fertility of her intuition can be found in her collection “Lucia Silvana”, which cleary shows her preference to work with shapes and designs. She likes hard objects and materials to work with. Well, I truely hope she will be designing jewels and shoes forever, because items like that are like artworks on your feet. “Her other sources of inspiration are words, colour gradients, nature and the sacred.”
Elisabeths collections have been noticed by several bloggers and fashion experts already. I shouldn’t forget to mention that she has even been selected as young wolf by the Flanders Fashion Institute. The price included that she could host her own exhibition at Showroom Belgium during Paris Fashion Week.What more can you desire as a young Belgian designer? She should keep wishing for the stars, because this is truely a promising young talent, following her own path and experimenting with intuition.
© All photography by Eefje De Coninck – If not, then mentioned beneath the picture.