Housed in a 17th century building that was formerly a convent and hospital, the Hasselt Fashion Museum first opened its doors to visitors in 1989. But Hasselt has been a centre for fashion and textiles since well before then. The cloth industry, and the trade of weaving, was of great economic and social importance to Hasselt from the 1300s, when it was known as a cloth city, with Hasselt cloth known for its quality and neat finish. But after the second world war the fashion and textile industry really began to flourish here, with its fashion clothing and accessories attracting shoppers from around Belgium, and beyond.
The Modemuseum is testament to this history, while also presenting current trends and activities in fashion today. Its latest exhibition, “Hallo”, showcases the work of British fashion designer Paul Smith.
The exhibition takes us on a journey through the story of the rise of Paul Smith, providing a behind the scenes glimpse of the personality behind the fashion label. From recreations of his first store in Nottingham (measuring just 3 x 3 metres) and his first showroom (a tiny Paris hotel room), to a replica design studio complete with design sketches, fabric swatches and original cardboard patterns, the Modemuseum is transformed into a Paul Smith universe. Even Smith’s cluttered Covent Garden office is on display, complete with an unfinished plate of spaghetti.
In addition to pieces of the designer’s fashion collections, we are also able to view Paul Smith’s passion for photography through a selection of his personal collection of wall art, including some of his very own photographs. Multimedia projections and clips of catwalk shows and behind the scenes footage compliment the displays of samples of Smith’s promotional work and collaborations with other major brands such as Mini cars, Leica cameras, Burton snowboards and Penguin books.
Extremely well conceived and put together, the “Hallo” exhibition really gives the visitor the sense of having gained a real insight into the creative workings of Paul Smith. The displays are creative and surprising, going beyond the obvious presentation of fashion items to include personal pieces and influences. One of the most enjoyable exhibits I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing, it’s original and engaging – an essential stop when passing through Hasselt.
“Hallo: My Name Is Paul Smith”
Gasthuisstraat 11, 3500 Hasselt