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Marie-Hélène Vanderborght: Design Takes over the Living Room

For over 15 years, journalist and tv-editor of ‘C’est du Belge’ Marie-Helene Vanderborght has provided visibility for creators and designers from Brussels and Wallonia. Her mission: to invite today’s talents into your living room.

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Text by Marie Honnay

TLmag: What is your view on design in Wallonia and Brussels, and on the new talents that are shining here and abroad?

Marie-Hélène Vanderborght : The Belgian label today gets a great deal of credibility. This is certainly the biggest evolution that I have seen over these past years in the various artistic fields. In “C’est du Belge”, our mission is to highlight talents and expertise in our country. And the programme’s longevity – 15 years now – is due to this creative effervescence.  There are of course established names that we like to follow, but also young people that we want to support. Talking about fashion and design in a prime-time programme for the general public presents an opportunity. We like to follow designers in their first steps, as we did with Olivia Borlée and Elodie Ouedraogo, creators of the label 42/54, who created a very coherent, successful line. But there are also amazing adventures, such as the most recent we shared on our show: that of Charly Nzogang, a graduate of the Francisco Ferrer school. Once day, he received a call from Oxford Fashion studio inviting him to show at New York Fashion Week. He thought it was a joke…but it wasn’t! Discovered by social networks, this 27-year old Cameroonian is living the dream. It’s a beautiful story in a business that is often ruthless. Unfortunately, in this extremely competitive environment, some brilliant talents throw in the towel, which always saddens me.

TLmag: How do you see your work within this idea of promoting contemporary Belgian design?

MHV: In the programme, we have had the opportunity, with the participation of Wallonie-Bruxelles Design Mode, with which we closely collaborate, to follow young stylists at the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography. There, they are confronted, with great simplicity, by a renowned jury. Last year, it included Haider Ackermann, Tilda Swinton and Lou Doillon. It’s very daunting for beginners. It also isn’t easy for these young people to find themselves in front of the TV cameras. My job is to get them to open up with goodwill. It’s another aspect of their job. They have to conquer it and learn to communicate.

TLmag: In the programme, you also speak about design. How do you approach it?
MHV: Clearly, design is an area that can be more technical and difficult for the general public to understand. It’s up to us to find out how to interest people through objects that will be part of their near future. In a few weeks, I’m preparing to follow our designers at the Milan Furniture Fair, a critical event where Belgium performs strongly. I am also happy that an event like the Collectible Fair, dedicated to 21st century contemporary design, has appeared in Brussels.

TLmag: As you follow the creative talents in Brussels and Wallonia, you must have some favourites?MHV: Every year, “C’est du Belge” strengthens its mission of support by awarding prizes for “The best of the year”. The goal of this competition is to highlight the emerging talents, supported by renowned sponsors. In the end, it’s the public that votes. Some memorable winners include denim brand Façon Jacmin, which won for fashion, or the wonderful porcelain work of Frédérique Ficheroulle in design. In terms of my personal favourites, I have quite a few: Lionel Jadot, Kaspar Hamacher and Alain Gilles in design. In fashion, I like the work and the personality of self-taught Odile Jacobs, who uses wax – a nod to her origins – that she mixes with more European cuts, or Carine Gilson who just celebrated 30 years of her fashion house. I remember a wonderful filming in New York in her company. We were there to film her fashion show. The next day, we decided to relax with a cocktail at café Carlyle…it was a memorable evening, one of those in which precious ties are created, away from the cameras.

Équipe c'est du belge
Mood Cups by Frédérique Ficheroulle
Portrait de Lionel Jadot, © Serge Anton
Kaspar Hamacher by Jules Lobgeois, courtesy of the Atelier Kaspar Hamacher
POrtrait Alain Gillesat Home, © Thomas De Boever
Alain Gilles, Bonaldo_Eddy Lounge Chair & Assemblage side tables, © Alain Gilles
Carine Gilson - Frederic Vercruysse

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