A CHAT WITH GDGS winner & ASVOFF 12 Styling Award winner, Florentina Leitner

Dear Shaded Viewers,

DP: What were your thoughts on the virtual show of Antwerp this summer and did you feel that it was successful? Who was your blind date by the way?

FL: It was a new approach which in this situation was needed. Personally my highlight was the ghost show part in the end of the show. It was a different feeling though watching the result on a tv at home instead of having the usual adrenaline rush backstage. My blind date was millinery legend Stephen Jones. I really enjoyed meeting him and getting the chance to show him my work.

DP: Let’s talk about the impact of cinema and art on your collection?

FL: Always a very big part in my work. I love watching movies and getting lost in their worlds. The same with art, since my dad is the only person I know who reads every single title and hidden notes in exhibitions, and ends up staying for hours in museums with me since I was a child, it kind of started my passion for beautiful things.

DP: When was the first time that you saw Vertigo and when what was the first piece of art by Louise Bourgeois and what was it about these two that had such a strong impact on you and eventually on your creations?

FL: I came across both in my teen years when I was looking more into classic cinematography and visited bigger museums on my travels. The first time putting those two together in the same context though happened last summer for me when I started researching about Vertigo and saw the spiral drawings from Louise popping up in a bookstore in Vienna.

DP: What was your process in execution of your dreams and something physical?

FL: I draw a lot and I like to collect almost random I ages which make sense for me in my creative work flow when I design and try to make my collection come to live.

DP: Did you also make the eyewear?

FL: Yes the eyewear was inspired by legend Peggy Guggenheim and the feeling of something getting distorted on your face. The Belgium eye wear brand Komono helped me producing my design and then even selling it worldwide. That was a great experience to after see people buying and wearing my glasses.

DP: What comes first for you the textile or the actual design? Do you think about sustainability when choosing textiles? I take it the fur is fake?

FL: It depends, sometimes I find a fabric and then make the silhouette for the fabric. Other times I have an idea for a design and then go look for the fabric which makes the design possible. Yes the fur is fake and comes from a local company and from dead stock fabric sales from bigger companies. It’s important for me to to buy dead stock and I also tried to upcycle old garments for some pieces this year.

DP: Who is your market? You already have a brand, did it start while you were attending school? How easy was that to do?

FL: I don’t have a official brand yet I just graduated with my master in Antwerp and after that I started working for Dries van Noten where I am still to this point. I started with my Instagram page a few years ago and this added up to a lot of nice projects and press. So I never produced things for a specific market. I just uploaded my school projects and outfits I costume made for celebrities. But I think the market found me through this way and it’s now my plan to really start selling to interested buyers.

DP: You won the Styling Award at ASVOFF12, The Tournament was submitted as a student film, I imagine based on the fact that Marnik A. Boekaerts is a student or a recent graduate? The judges at ASVOFF decided to give the Styling Award to The Tournament in the official competition taking this out of the Student Category, how did that make you feel? I have to say that never happened in the past.

FL: Marnik is my boyfriend since some years now and we made this movie together for my Bachelor collection in the Antwerp Academy. We applied for the student film category as it was a movie I made for my bachelor together with him. He studied film in Brussels and had amazing contacts to a great team and we pulled of something amazing with almost no budget where we are all super proud of. The whole team was happy that we won even a price for it and that it was for best styling made me proud as it was all my own collection pieces I styled in this movie.

DP: How did you work with Marnik A. Boekaerts on The Tournament? What was your input? Did you commission Marnik to make the film for your brand?

FL: As I told you Marnik and me are a couple and he was from the beginning on with me when I started with the process of my collection. I was inspired by fairytales, a specially by Cinderella. I knew I wanted to make a movie for my end presentation and Marnik and me started planing everything together and as he knows how to write movies and knew camera guys he took more over that part where my tasks where more finding the cast, the styling, and the visual look of the movie. I had help from so many amazing people on this movie and I am still so thankful for their input.

DP: What is your approach for sales?

FL: So far I only sold the glasses but I got requests from some stores which where interested in several pieces. I try to stay true to my style and hope that there will be a market for me and my creations out there. But it already showed me with the glasses that people are interested in also buying my creations.

DP: Please keep ASVOFF in mind when you create your next film.

FL: We definitely will, our plan was already to film a new film for my master collection in April but then COVID came and cancelled everything. Also making a movie is still a budget question so we are now looking for sponsors for our next film project. I hope we stay in contact and can soon have film festivals offline again so we can all meet in person.

Diane Pernet

A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN FASHION and a pioneer of blogging, Diane is a respected journalist, critic, curator and talent-hunter based in Paris. During her prolific career, she designed her own successful brand in New York, costume designer, photographer, and filmmaker.