Travel style specialist Maison Ullens has named Christian Wijnants as its new creative director. The Belgian designer had been consulting since last summer with Maison Ullens, but a communiqué has finally made his position official today.
Maison Ullens is based next to Brussels, in a green village famous for its castle. The brand was founded in 2009 by Baroness Myriam Ullens de Schooten Whettnall.
While taking on his new role, Wijnants will maintain his own eponymous collection working out of his office in Antwerp. FashionNetwork.com organised a zoom with Wijnants to hear about his plans for the cashmere label.
Fashion Network: What do you hope to bring to Ullens?
Christian Wijnants: It’s a brand that has a lot to give – beautiful quality, a travelling attitude and timeless pieces. But maybe it’s missing some triggering elements, new ideas, novelties and new techniques. I like colour and want to bring my palette to the brand. Also to have an emotional side is important. This can be anything – aesthetic or humour or levity.
FN: When will we see the first looks and what is the inspiration?
CW: We will present end of February, with a presentation in Paris. Maybe in Maison Ullens’ beautiful store. Wyoming is the inspiration of the collection. What I appreciate is that this brand works with beautiful materials and I wanted a homage to nature and to take people to a place that expresses that. So, I thought of the colours of Yellowstone; dramatic, raw nature and organic fall colours. And, I wanted rawer fabrics – wool and cashmere blends represent that.
I live in Antwerp, a small city, so I also like to escape. Travel and discovering new cultures and self-reflecting on my own life brings me a lot of joy.
FN: How would you define the DNA of Ullens?
CW: Timeless clothes that can be worn for many year, in the evening as well as at breakfast. Ullens’ clients like to travel in practical and pragmatic ways and not with five suitcases. They want a travel kit collection based on reversible pieces that can be worn in two different colours – very fine 18 gauge materials you can roll and pack in a suitcase. No steaming required. That’s Myriam’s way of living.
FN: How would you define the DNA of Christian Wijnants?
CW: I like the idea of timelessness. For me, the biggest compliment, would be people passing my clothes on to their daughter. I like colours but not too dark, and a certain poetry, which means something soft and yet cool. And fluidity, not too tight and rigid, pieces that make you feel happy – not high heels and corsets.
FN: Will you continue your own label?
CW: Yes, we will celebrate our 20th anniversary this year. Time flies and I didn’t realise it had been so long. Slow but steady. I started working for Dries Van Noten before graduating. And then started my own line two years after graduation. We won Hyères and that gave me self-confidence. Now I retail in 150 stores worldwide. And have two of my own stores, one in Antwerp and I just opened one in Berlin. My father had a pharmacy and my mum was a school teacher. My granny was an artist and she was very literary, so I guess I get my artistic side from her.