PHOTOGRAPHER // Willy Vanderperre

A models.com interview by Wayne Sterling

Willy Vanderperre studied fashion design and photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp alongside the key Belgium fashion designers of his generation. He still lives there today.

Could you start Mr Vanderperre, by telling us a little bit about your background and how you came to be a fashion photographer?

I grew up in the southwest of Belgium, and at an early age I knew I wanted to do something creative, it was my dream. I was obsessed and was following art school every weekend. Then around my thirteenth year I went full time to art school, nearby where I lived, in the same province, the West Flandres. When I turned eighteen, it was the period in which fashion was really important in Belgium. We had the boom of the Belgian designers ‘The Antwerp 6′ and you would see them written up in magazines everywhere. What that early influence of fashion did in my life was, that it gave me the extra push to study fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp where everybody from that group of designers came from. When I arrived in Antwerp, Margiela had just started, but was doing one amazing show after the other in Paris. It was the early 90′s, the period when fashion and photography and art photography… they started to flirt with each other, like a cross-over, where it was acceptable for an art photographer to do fashion photography and vice-versa. It was around that time that I went through a transition, and where I found, that for me the medium of photography was more interesting. I was more excited, to go about finding images, cutting out images, taking pictures…creating the world around it, than the actual design of fashion itself. Because I always thought that at the end, to translate and capture the emotion I wanted, it was more efficient to do it in images. I think that is the main reason why I went through the transition from studying fashion to photography.

It sounds like those days at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts were quite a defining influence on your aesthetic.

Oh yes for sure, because you know, you come to the ‘big city’…Antwerp…and only entering this ancient school building (the architecture of the school itself dates from the 1600′s) …, where you had corridors filled with Roman and Greek Renaissance statues and you have that feeling of a lot history, the weight, you could actually feel, in this school. That was quite impressive. In the backyard of the school was this little building, on the verge of collapsing. You would have to very carefully go over the stairs, because if you took one mis-step, you could literally push your feet through them. It was almost dangerous. So I think that the whole thing melted well together. It was the switch from the 80s to 90s, the reaction on excess with minimalism and deconstruction, the first appearance of grunge. So that feeling of romanticism, together with the history, the building and the run down corridors with the statues, it really did make a big impact on how you formed your visual language. I really think there was something quite dark and magical about it, matching perfectly the zeitgeist of the period.

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Source (http://www.dazeddigital.com/) Interview(A models.com interview by Wayne Sterling)