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At the MAD, Rondenet and Yvrenogeau Are OWNing It

The duo behind cult Belgian fashion label OWN are showcasing 16 seasons worth of archives, with a twist: Clothes? What clothes?

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Text by Rab Messina
Photography by Alexandra Bertels

In 2004, brothers Pierre and Pablo Lhoas designed the retail space for Brussels-based fashion label OWN. The brand no longer exists, but when the MAD chose to do a retrospective this year, founders Thierry Rondenet and Hervé Yvrenogeau called upon the architectural services of Lhoas & Lhoas once again.

The catch? Instead of designing the exhibition to display 16 seasons worth of archives in the museum, they’d be part of the exhibition.

“We wanted to cover different aspects of fashion, from photography to scenography, including accessories and graphics,” explained Rondenet and Yvrenogeau. Having done everything themselves from 1999 until 2007, it seemed like an organic move. “We felt that it was normal to evoke this fact through the exhibition and that it would be even more interesting to entrust it to others who have talent and legitimacy. Especially since we have always liked the idea of collectives, it is something that we have always insisted on.”

That motley collective is the basis of It’s My OWN: An Everyday Fashion Story, a sort-of retrospective now on display at the Brussels institution. “We have almost no archives anymore,” the duo said. “It’s a challenge to talk about a universe without being able to exhibit the clothes. But, we said, why not? It’s always fascinating to revisit what formed our path, in the same way as a journey through our vocabulary. However, since we have many documents from back in the day, it was possible to create images, to recount our story. But through other eyes. In order to give what has existed a second life. We wanted it to be reinterpreted by others and for it to be part of a contemporary scene.”

The exhibition thus includes some of the surviving pieces —from suits to biker jackets— cohabitating with reappropriations by the likes of photographer Nicolas Karakatsanis, florist Thierry Boutemy, choreographer Thomas Hauert and the Lhoas brothers themselves.

So, how do you tell a story when most of its protagonists are gone? Simple: You just OWN it.

It’s My OWN: An Everyday Fashion Story is on display at the MAD until June 17

OWN at MAD Brussels
At the initiative of OWN, Nicolas Karakatsanis and Leonardo Van Dijl have freely appropriated their world, creating 11 portraits in which Nicolas’s pictorial approach meets Leonardo’s sharp eye.
OWN at MAD Brussels
The beauty of the project lies in the ambiguity generated by these images, in which the clothing of the past appears to have been created in the present.
OWN at MAD Brussels
The contribution of Joachim de Callataÿ revisits the process of manufacturing a shoe, whilst playing with the codes applied by OWN.
OWN at MAD Brussels
In collaboration with OWN, Mariam Mazmishvili opted to reinterpret, through drawings, the silhouettes, details, motifs and slogans from the world of OWN. Her highly personal illustrations are displayed on large stoneware vases.
own mad brussels fashion
For the exhibition, Thierry Boutemy collaborated with Mariam Mazmishvili, adorning her vases with floral compositions incorporating wood, metal and artificial flowers.
OWN at MAD Brussels
Singular Paris presents three original installations at MAD. Appropriating one of the duo’s scenographic approaches, these decorative curtains are made with video cassettes inspired by pop culture.
OWN at MAD Brussels
Lhoas & Lhoas' presentation approach plays with the vocabulary of the fashion world, subverting it and offering a reinterpretation of the OWN label through a surrealistic catwalk where the traces of a wardrobe blend images and memories of past collections.
OWN at MAD Brussels
Zoo/Thomas Hauert and OWN have collaborated on numerous occasions between 2002 and 2008. Based on this fruitful relationship, they present the costumes from the performance Accords as an installation, in a sort of freeze-frame on a moment of improvisation along with a video of the choreographed performance.
OWN at MAD Brussels
Pam&Jenny brings a fresh eye to the visual archives of OWN as well as to the message/propaganda dimension of the duo’s oeuvre.
OWN at MAD Brussels
Nathalie Pollet --aka both Pam and Jenny-- has also created the signage for the exhibition.
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