Monday, June 8, 2009

R.I.P. House of Veronique Branquinho

Another respected label down and out . . . Veronique Branquinho may not be a household name but this Antwerp designer was, in an under-the-radar sort of way, a distinct force in the world of high fashion. How many other contemporary women have muscled their way into guest membership in the ultra-elite Chambre syndicale de la haute couture, the French guild that promotes and stages the biannual shows in Paris?

Like Belgian counterparts Dries van Noten, Anne Demeulemeester and Martin Margiela, Branquinho's style might be defined by its often uncompromising art-school intellectuality. No Mediterranean flesh-flaunting here (Versace and Cavalli, I mean you). These designers love a purity of line, cleverness of cut, and (with the exception of Dries, who caught print fever in recent seasons) an austerity of tone that reflected the cobblestones-in-a-cold-drizzle base layer of their local environment.

Bizarrely, the day after the label folded I found a Branquinho blouse in one of my favorite local charity shop/thrift stores, for £6 ($10). I know, it's ridiculous, but this is not an unheard of event if the shop is within striking distance of a fashion-conscious neighborhood and the item's label is little-known (see Stealth Designers, elsewhere on this blog).

In tomorrow's entry, I'll describe how I'll make this blouse, which is "difficult", easily wearable. For now, here's a tip on another stealth brand: Delvaux bags. That's where Branquinho is headed as new head of design, and it's a name she will surely take beyond the moneyed Belgian and French housewives that currently favor them out into the wider fashion world.

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