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Wool Week Belgium – Anna Heylen

Participant in  the Campaign for Wool exhibition, fashion designer Anna Heylen talks about her fashion house Maison Heylen, her inspiration and her use of wool in her work including her travels to Mongolia to have her work made.

‘I travelled to Mongolia, to observe, feel, and breathe the life of sheep: the basis of wool. I found inspiration in the pureness, the elegance, the beauty and the rawness of  sheep. Their beauty is just that combination of elegance and raw pureness.

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Image credits Sophie Rata 

I almost danced with sheep.

The environment was amazing, The people were cheerful. And what an  inexhaustible energy the sun has. The grass was glowing. The wool felt soft.

Once I could work on the machines: the energy jumped onto me. As if intuition and instinct intermingled.

I have always loved to go back to basics. Where does it start? How did it begin? What are the basic technologies? What are the raw basic materials? I now feel that so many new combinations are possible. So many things to try out still. Changes at the bottom of the chain have a big scope.’

Video Credits

We changed our prêt a porter collection into Maison Anna Heylen out of necessity. It was simply too innovative. Retailers and customers couldn’t follow the fast changes I introduced. They lacked a continuous recognizable fashion line. I don’t have the patience to introduce new colours or fabrics just when the time is right, commercially speaking.

In Maison Anna Heylen we let our creativity flow, and innovate at full speed. Instead of creating a line, we make unique pieces, sometimes a very limited number of doublures. The difference is so radical that we actually tumbled in a new market segment: unique dressing. And in the slipstream: tailored to measure in the in-house atelier. Our clients are fashionable but transcend all trends. We are not anti-fashion. I like fashion for my kids.

Wool suits my business model ‘without seasons’ very well. The woven fabrics give a warm feeling in winter and a cool feeling in summer. In the area of knitted wool, the possible combinations are unlimited, and unique pieces are feasible.

We source wool wherever we find good quality: on fairs, in showrooms but also in retail because we don’t need big quantities.

Combinations of wool with other fabrics, leathers and recycled fur is really my dada, especially in accessories, scarves and heads. Unique combinations, you know!

Curator of the Wool week expo, freelance journalist Veerle Windels on Anna Heylen:

An Antwerp Academy graduate as well, Anna Heylen has made her own women’s collection since 1996. She now focuses on high-end handmade pieces for women who come to her Antwerp-based Maison and dare to make their own fashion choices, far away from catwalks. Anna believes in close collaboration with the makers, whether they live in Asia, Belgium or Africa.




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