“Does this garment give me power? And if so, how?” is the question Igor Dieryck asked himself when he began to create his latest collection Duty Calls, which talks about political power. Starting with this question was essential to ensure that the seven looks that make up this collection are garments that empower the modern man. And how did he do it? By mixing imperial silhouettes, the essence of a businessman and the streetwear aesthetic we’ve come to know Dieryck for.
Another starting point for this collection was questioning the importance of the royal family in Belgium. This interest in the subject of power stems from the contradiction between Igor's ideas and opinions, since he is rather partisan of the monarchy but does not believe that the way in which they gain power is ethical, because it goes against the values of equality that are propagated in today’s society.

Dieryck’s intention was to make an analysis of the political game rather than a criticism of it: “This collection is terribly political in the sense that it relates the different games that constitute the life of our nations. However, it was important to me that it would not be political in the sense of ideas.” In his own words, Duty Calls is a mixture between the admiration he has for people who put duty before their personal interests and a harsh criticism of political games to maintain this power.

Originally from the province of Luxembourg, Igor Dieryck is a 22-year-old Masters Fashion student at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp. He identifies as someone who is passionate about politics and geopolitics and as a proud representative of the complex Belgian culture in all its diversity. His works are a mixture of his interest in the contemporary world with deep artistic experimentation. The clothes he makes are dedicated to young men but can also be worn by women.
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How much did the culture in Luxembourg and Belgium influence your decision to study fashion?
To be honest, I don't think that the Luxembourgish culture strongly influenced my decision to study fashion. Where I come from, adults wear suits to work in offices and in high school. Nobody had a strong sense of personal style. There is no Luxembourgish style or Luxembourgish history in fashion. It is, perhaps, to change this that I decided to study fashion.
Belgian fashion, however, is highly recognised throughout the world. Although the truth is that when I made the decision to come to study in Antwerp, I didn't know anything about it yet, so it was a rather naive decision. Later on, I was lucky enough to discover the richness of the Belgian fashion scene. I love fashion and I couldn't see myself doing anything else. That’s the main reason I decided to study this subject.
You are studying at one of the most important schools in the world, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp. Although you have not finished your studies yet, how would you define your experience studying there? Why did you choose this school?
It's very difficult to describe this 4 year journey in a few words but I would say it has been: inspiring, intense, tiring and instructive. It’s a school where we are pushed to experiment a lot and where we are taught to make decisions and be critical of our own work. To give you an idea, sometimes we have to design hundreds of looks before making the final choice. There are no real classes, rather it is a kind of constant coaching where they teach you to test your limits and the limits of fashion. It’s difficult, but this trial and error system makes the education at the Royal Academy of Antwerp unique.
I chose this school because, despite the fact that I didn't know much about fashion at the time, the Antwerp Academy is a worldwide symbol of fashion history, especially thanks to its alumni. This school made me dream big and that’s why I decided to take the entrance exam. Here I am a few years later doing my Masters.
Before joining the academy, you did a preparatory year in Fine Art as your background until then had been mainly in maths and science. Have you always known that you wanted to do fashion or did you find out later when you grew up?
I always knew that I wanted to work in fashion. Since I was little I was passionate about it. I used to watch fashion shows on TV. I used to draw. I loved going shopping with my mum to pick out outfits for her, but I come from a place where most of my friends studied science or economics. The Belgian province of Luxembourg is not a place where culture and art are present, hence my more scientific background. Until the day I said to myself when I was 18 years old: now or never.
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The pandemic came when you were halfway through your studies in fashion. How did it affect you to finish your second bachelor collection Wallifornia in the middle of the chaos? The same thing happened during your third year. How did this new normality condition your Duty Calls collection? What difficulties did you find in developing it when we were in lockdown and you couldn’t go to school?
It definitely had an impact on the collection. The pandemic made creative work much more intense. During the lockdown I had nothing else to do but stay home and work on my collection. I was constantly sewing, surrounded by my creations. I turned my bedroom into a studio and part of the living room was used for cutting fabrics, much to my parents' delight. I was able to focus on one goal, in addition to my daily jog. Despite the difficulties, this also had a positive impact on my Wallifornia collection: I had the opportunity to settle down and work calmly.
For the Duty Calls collection, it was very different. One month we were allowed to go to the studio, the next month we weren't, and so on. It was much more complicated to get into a rhythm. I missed the atmosphere of being in a classroom with 20 creative students. Additionally, the virus has strongly influenced the way students source materials. It also made it more difficult to work collaboratively and meet other talented people.
Your first collection Wallifornia reflects how tourism has become accessible to everyone to the point of losing its value. In addition, how tourism has enhanced the superficiality of social networks. Tell us a little more about the process of creating your first collection, how you materialised all those ideas in those six designs and what it meant for you.
The starting point of my Wallifornia collection was an image from the documentary Human by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. [There is a shot in the film] where we see a wave pool in China completely filled with people, tourists. Next, I broadened my research with a historical investigation of tourists from the 70s that I linked to old family pictures I found in my grandparents’ basement. Furthermore, I introduced a connection with social media: The narcissist is a tourist. The tourist is someone who doesn’t really participate in the social event that is going on around him or her.
Nowadays tourism is no longer a luxury only for privileged people. So the new goal of tourists is to make their trip as exclusive as possible. Now what matters is having seen and gone to all the instagrammable places to be able to share them with your followers. But what is the main reason they want to go to these places? Do they really plan to enjoy it? Many tourists lose the principal interest of their trip, as they arrive with preconceptions based on social media and cannot get a complete picture of the place they are visiting, primarily because the time is most often very limited.
We can see all this reflected, for example, in my first silhouette. I printed the type of fabric I wanted to use over the used one to give that superficial fake effect. I also over packed the silhouette with lots of pockets, the mattress and very useless accessories -like credit card pockets on the gloves- to make the cliché even worse, to the point of looking almost sarcastic. Lastly, I gave a nod to the basic tourist t-shirt with the logo, embodying the very large Wallifornia patch. To round it off with some humor, I have found this sentence that describes well the ironic side of my collection: “Au luxembourg, on n’a pas de mer ni de montagne mais on a les sous pour y aller.” (In Luxembourg, we don’t have the sea nor the mountains, but we have the money to go there).
The prints, fabrics and silhouettes of your latest Duty Calls collection are a mix of your young and fun streetwear signature with the vision of royalty that inspires this collection. How did you manage to create these extravagant and feminine designs based on the idea of the Belgian royal family?
I’m not sure an hour-long interview would be enough to answer this question so lets just say it happened spontaneously while listening to my daily political podcast and hours of debating with my housemate.
Now speaking more seriously, the most direct reflection of the Belgian royal family that we can find in this collection is in the imperial silhouettes. When materialising this collection I’ve kept in mind the inclusion of royal and dictatorial elements that characterise the theme, but mixing it with an essence of a businessman and maintaining the streetwear aesthetic that is dear to me. Regarding the extravagant and feminine designs, my intention was to capture how the current man of power wears feminine and flamboyant clothes by revealing a part of his body and yet not making him more vulnerable.
As to the most critical part of this collection, I wanted to denounce how sometimes we expect people who have power to have an opinion on everything, when it is not a natural thing. When the Covid-19 pandemic began, people around the world were waiting for consistent decisions. However, many leaders were not qualified on the subject of health. I myself have an opinion on many subjects but there is still a lot that I can learn as my knowledge is limited. This is what the phrase "I have nothing to say, and I say it”, by the composer John Cage, that we find on one of the caps of the collection, refers to. Politicians don't always have something relevant to say, but they are still obliged to express their opinion, sometimes meaninglessly.
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Duty Calls talks about empowerment. To create this collection, you took as reference different people in positions of power throughout the 20th century. Which people did you choose and why did they catch your attention? Who inspired you the most?
I preferred to focus on a group of people rather than choosing different identifiable personalities. I didn't want my collection to be tied to one or more characters. I like to think that the looks I created are a mix of all my inspirations: 1/4 queens, 1/4 presidents, 1/4 dictators, 1/4 historical figures.
Naturally, the monarchy had a preponderant place because it was at the origin of my research. Why do some people inherit power without even having to fight for it? I am personally rather partisan of the monarchy and yet this system goes against the values of equality that are propagated in today’s society. This contradiction between my ideals and my concrete opinions was the source of my interest in the subject of power. Moreover, the relationship that Belgians have with their royal family is quite particular. We cherish it while at the same time we like to make fun of it.
This collection is terribly political in the sense that it relates the different political games that constitute the life of our nations. However, it was important to me that it would not be political in the sense of ideas. So I focused on the role of these people and not their opinion and personality.
Accessories are essential pieces in your collections. We can see from a hat made with selfie sticks to a beret made of gold buttons or a cap with a huge banner above it. Which part of the collection creation process was the most challenging for you to carry out?
In my opinion, the most challenging part of putting together a collection is the beginning. You have to try to organise your ideas in a logical coherent way and find the right balance between diversity and harmony in the aesthetic of the piece. It's also the moment when, for the first time, you have to translate your ideas into a three-dimensional garment!
Accessories are a form of escape for me. I've always had a lot of fun working out the different accessories. I love to design hats, glasses, shoes... It's more like a game! Throughout the year, when I need to take a step back from the clothes, I concentrate for a few days on my accessories.
Both in your first and in your second collection, almost all the garments have asymmetrical cuts and shapes. Which has been the most difficult garment to make? What would you say is your star piece or the garment that you have the most affection for?
The most difficult piece to make was the reversible quilted jacket. The construction was extremely complex as it combines two diametrically opposed jackets into one piece. Everything had to be calculated in advance to make sure each element fits perfectly. Definitely in this piece I tried to push my idea as far as possible and test my limits. In terms of the amount of work, probably all the crochet and macramé pieces were the most hardcore.
The piece I cherish the most is the green cardigan from my Duty Calls collection. It wasn't as easy to make as it looks, but I think the result is quite natural and efficient. It fits perfectly with what I love to wear. I destroyed my bathroom floor while dyeing the knit, so that adds to the fact that this piece is really close to my heart.
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Most of your clothes are very large, padded and bulky. During your first year, you already showed your interest in this type of design, as we remember the huge orange Giles of Binche-inspired dress you made for a school project. From your creative point of view, what do you think this type of garment expresses to the public or what would you like it to express?
I like to share my ideas in an impactful way, making a statement through a silhouette. I find it important that people feel intrigued and curious about my designs. Given the subjects I like, I'm almost forced to use big volumes and punchy colours. However, I also appreciate the subtlety of some pieces, the invisible details and the hidden finishes. I think that a good collection is made up of both clothes that mark the eye and the mind, not forgetting details and ideas that bring a new approach to the garment.
Every designer's collection keeps its deepest personal essence. Beyond the fact that your collections address social problems, what more personal meaning can we see reflected in your designs? What other inspirations are behind your creations?
The fact that my collections deal with social issues speaks directly and personally of me. I am a citizen of the world and I’m part of the generation that is concerned about social movements of society. That’s the reason why I believe that my work is personal. This topic speaks to my concerns in the face of this rapidly evolving world, my fears for the future, but also the dreams what I aspire to (democracy, acceptance, etc). Approaching these problems through my work allows me to experience things in a lighter way in my day-to-day life. Moreover, my work has a certain form of gay-ness which is linked to my history, of which I am proud of.
Although your designs are totally different, your philosophy reminds me a bit of Virgil Abloh's: taking street clothes and turning them into luxury fashion. Who are the designers that inspire you the most when it comes to designing? Who, for example, would you love to work with one day?
Demna of course! Raf Simons and Craig Green too. I also really love the work of Kim Jones and I’m very curious about the work of Matthieu Blazy at Bottega.
You are now getting your Master’s in Fashion and you have already launched two complete collections. What do you have in store for us this year and what are your expectations for the future?
I'm busy finishing the first half of my master’s collection at the moment, so I'm very excited for everyone to see it. But I don't want to spoil the surprise by revealing too much. All I can say is that there are some nice collaborations. I hope the collection will be well received, but above all that it corresponds to what I want to share. And of course I hope to find a job next year. After 17 years of studying, I will finally start working.
What is your greatest dream as a designer and who would you be especially excited to dress one day?
I would love to meet someone while shopping who has my clothes on and to think that this person has a fucking great style. I would love to see M.I.A. (because she is my childhood icon) with one of my pieces. I would also like to see my brother wearing one of my designs. Not to make fun of me, for once, but because he genuinely likes a piece.
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