Tom Van der Borght, Lampoon
WORDS
REPORTING
TAG
BROWSING
SHARE
Facebook
WhatsApp
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Email
Twitter

Lampoon / Transition: what is normalcy for Tom Van der Borght?

The bombardment of texture, volume and color, the union of playfulness and self-depreciation – and the civil and social commitment

Björk – Big Time Sensuality

The town and municipality of Bilzen is located in the province of Limburg, in Belgium, fifteen kilometers due West of its neighbor Maastricht, in the Netherlands. In the 2020 census carried out by Statbel – the statistics office in Belgium that collects, produces and disseminates figures on the economy, society and territory of the country – it was found that the town houses over thirty-two thousand residents and is the home of Tom Van der Borght. It was in the living room of his house that Van der Borght had previously picked up the remote control and turned on the family television, dismissing the clock that signaled his time to go to school. On the screen, he had watched Björk flail her hands, jump in jubilation, move her body up close and further away from the camera, and dance on top of a delivery truck in a cinematography doused in grayscale. Stéphane Sednaoui had directed and filmed Björk for a day in New York City on October 26, 1993. They had played the song as the truck drove by the city, as the New Yorkers responded by dancing with Björk. After the shoot, Sednaoui described the songstress as an individual sheltered in layers, her character defying the onlookers’ opinions over her performance on the truck. Her Big Time Sensuality music video entranced Van der Borght and challenged him to keep his eyes off the screen. As he kept his gaze on Björk and absorbed each minute of the track and video, Van der Borght resonated with her artistry. «Björk possesses the ability to reinvent herself, to find a version of her persona in contrast to that of her former self. She does not place herself in a single box, a category, but slithers out and perseveres with a performance that reverberated my approach to fashion and art. I reinvent what I know and re-fashion who I am into what I produce».

Lampoon interviews Tom Van der Borght

Van der Borght is transported back to his family’s living room, with fabrics scattered across the floor as his mother, skilled in sewing and pattern cutting, demonstrated pattern drawing to her son. At five, Van der Borght crossed his legs and sat next to her on the floor, scrutinizing the two layers of fabrics that composed the pants. In a guide published by New Mexico State University, styles to avoid and those to adopt commence with the creation of pants. Flared, fitted, straight, and silhouettes that flatter one’s figure. While the technicalities fell on Van der Borght’s deaf ears, the fabric selection piqued his interest: gabardine, velveteen, denim and corduroy. As he busied himself with the variety of textiles, and refashioned the styles and outfits of his sister’s dolls in his spare time, his pursuit of creativity picked up its pace. He began the stages of learning creativity through visuals. Sara Gable – an Associate Professor, State Extension Specialist at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and author of Creativity in Young Children – identifies Van der Borght’s transition at the cusp of the Scribbling Stage and Pre-schematic Stage, as he was able to realize the effect he had in his interaction with the fabrics, showcase his fascination towards color, establish familiarity and appetite for the materials, and the search for ways to actualize the ideas he had concocted in his mind. «Creativity is more than a product. It is a process. A painting, a thought-provoking writing or a response may be examples of creative work, but the decisions people make as they paint, sculpt, write and think are at the core of the process. There is a gap and a balance». In his youth, his grades at school could have afforded him to study degrees in maths or business at the University, but Van der Borght steered away from these selections, shocking his parents who had reasoned out to him that he would surpass the benchmarks of the art, fashion, and theater fields combined. He spent a year studying social and political science at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and attended a course on social work in Ghent, where he had moved once he turned nineteen. Van der Borght’s vocation in fashion and art simmered as he dabbled in social work. For two years, he worked for a literacy center as a teacher to adults, guiding them on how to read, write and establish confidence in order to integrate themselves into the community. For a further three years, he transitioned into working at a non-profit educational organization for teenagers who came from difficult and abusive family backgrounds, helping them to navigate towards rehabilitation and reincorporation into the society. Adding another two years to his profession, he moved on to his next non-profit organization, working on policies that touched on domestic violence and abuse. His time as a social worker eluminated his penchant for diversity – in culture and in ethics – as he brought in the nuances of fashion and art to the adults and teenagers he had worked with, yet he realized that «manifesting justice in society would take more than an overture of fashion and art to the public».

Church of Chica collection

At twenty-six, Van der Borght found out that he had a hereditary motor sensory neuropathy, a disorder affecting his peripheral nervous system. He inherited the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, the disorder’s moniker, as his brother suffered with the same fate. According to the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine, there is a fifty-percent chance that a child of an affected parent may inherit the disorder, which may also be triggered at random. When the muscles in his hands and feet no longer received impulses from the nerves, the disorder targeted the nerves themselves, creating weakness and numbness in his legs as his nerve cells deteriorated. A year after it was discovered it, Van der Borght lay in bed as his legs and feet surrendered to the disorder. No treatment exists for Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease as it deviates from being fatal, most of the time, with the affected hoping it steadies itself to bring some alleviation. While he stayed off his feet, he made necklaces, but pondered over what he would do next. He took lessons in stitching, the only man in a group full of women, after which his motor sensory had improved. On leaving the academy, Van der Borght enrolled at the Stedelijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten of Sint-Niklaas, in Belgium, earning his fashion degree in 2012. Before graduating, he interned for Maureen De Clerqc – a Professor of Fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, who had been taken under the wing of Dries Van Noten with a traineeship – after which, he entered the Triumph Inspiration Award in 2011, a competition that challenges students of designs across the globe to concoct a lingerie showpiece around a theme. Van der Borght’s entry introduced Transformama as his response to 125 Years of Celebrating Women. A lion’s mane, accompanying the curves of a white and black dress that cinches the hips. Circles overlap, diamonds form the shape of the sun, sleeves with zebra print, a sketch of a woman wearing a peacock as a crown on the belt buckle, dragons, sheeps, and anime in layers of color, blue sneaker tongues to pair with high heels; a hip woman on the runway. Out of over thirty design schools from thirty countries, Van der Borght won the first prize and the AudienceAward, his ticket to exhibit the piece at Berlin Fashion Week. After his graduation, he presented his Church of Chica at Berlin and Paris Fashion Weeks. In its concept video, the models perform rituals while wearing Van der Borght’s designs. The tribe’s commander dons a puffer jacket that touches the floor; its hood resembles a bull with a horns and spots of inks on the garment form imagery of faces that scream for help. A sweater with a wolf’s silhouette, a pair of heeled sneakers in black and yellow, and a rosary with a wolf’s head as the crucifix to accessorize. Three followers in underwear sit before a bowl, kneeling and bowing their heads to drink a potion, while their commander raises his arms to point to the sky. The frame shifts. The three followers wear Van der Borght’s designs. The first in a lion’s mane; a jacket in pastel prints of triangles, parallelograms, trapezoids and kites, with balls of fur across it. The second in a sweater of rhombus and parallelogram prints, pastel shorts with hexagonal prints, pink and yellow socks to the knees, and sunglasses with shutters. The third in a cape doubling as a vest, the sky, the clouds, and a rainbow embedded with balls of fur on the shoulders, pants in rainbow colors, and a hat with shards of glass. Their backs to the camera, kitchen knives in hand, they turn, grin, and perform a ritual.

Lampoon, van der Borght, Bjork
Bjork in the music video ‘Big time sensuality’

TVDB label

On New Year’s Day of 2013, Van der Borght founded his label TVDB in Ghent, Belgium. Two weeks after its establishment, he won the Premium Young Designer Award during Berlin Fashion Week after showcasing Aponycalypse. «The style of frenzy over classicism. The forefront of my designs displays people having fun, at the core and in the portrayal». In the compendium, prints and paintings steer the jackets and accessories. A jacket fused with hand painted images of horses emerging from a sea of clouds outlined in pencil, a digitally knitted sweater with the necks of swans in red and white, and a jacket with Renaissance engravings and straw pom poms. In April 2013, he won the C&A Reimagine Design Challenge, a rediscovery of the beauty that lies in the objects one sees every day. Van der Borght photographed plates, cups, spoons, forks and knives before, during and after a meal, prior to designing his Lunch Jacket. Holy work break, how fashion heals, is the message of his designs. He donated his prize of 10,000 euros to the Faculty of Fashion of the Academy of Fine Arts in Sint-Niklaas. «The academy provides opportunities to diverse people to show their creativity at a high level. With the prize, I yearn to set up an annual competition where graduates may showcase their innovation and collections, a means to motivate them».

Sigmund Freud and Tom Van der Borght

Sigmund Freud perceived the mind as an iceberg: the tip as the consciousness of one’s mind, the sentiments, ruminations and memories that one may summon, and the depth of the ice, a reservoir concealed from the naked eye, the unacceptable. The components of the unconscious affect one’s behavior. Freud labeled the process as repression, where psychoanalysis may derive its foundations. The Freudian psychoanalysis brings out the unconscious mind into the conscious to alleviate psychological stress. Primary Repression refers to burying the unwanted before it arrives at the consciousness, while Repression Proper echoes one’s awareness of the repression but dismisses it from its awareness. The purpose of repression lies in minimizing anxiety. The Id, the unconscious of desires and needs that drives behavior, powers our urges while the Superego, one’s morality drawn from values in society, reasons out with the individual. The ego, the mediator, balances the two ends. In 2020, Van der Borght interpreted Freudian psychoanalysis. «According to Freud, repression occurs when instinctual impulses experience blockages from entering the conscious mind through a persistent expenditure of force as they threaten the integrity of the ego and become incompatible with ethical standards imposed on them by the superego. In the long run, these repressed impulses tend to return and surface into the consciousness via mechanisms of condensation and displacement. In a parallel with my fashion, I talked about these returns often taking on extreme forms since, according to Freud, what is prevented from entering the consciousness develops with less interference. It proliferates in the dark and takes on extreme forms of expression». Throughout his fashion and art undertakings, Van der Borght’s artistry dangles over a maelstrom of textile, graphics, video, installation, animation, and scenography influences. Fusing each component into his fabrics, he adopts Freud, tribes and cults, sustainability, the roles of gender in society, and reinvention, which he showcased during the thirty-fifth edition of the Hyères International Fashion and Photography Festival.

Seven Ways to be TVDB

Seven Ways to be TVDB; the acronym of his name, reflects self-portraiture. The description aims at how «one’s timeline undergoes defeat, vulnerability, mistreatment, melancholy, loneliness, and exclusion. In such times, the search to rediscover self persists, a craving for a guide to survive life. They yearn for connection and community as an antidote. To accompany the downhill, this anthology of seven rituals, based on Van der Borght’s seven stages of life and experiences, introduces awareness and sensibility for the strong and the special. His research explores the representation and celebration of the non-normative in a myriad of fashion, performance and visual art». Way One: a mask and necktie in macramè, ropes, tie-wraps, and EVA foam cord endings. Embroidery shirt in sequin, one hundred percent cotton. Sturgeon and marine leather top in plastic, leftovers, and metal rings. Hand-embroidered blazer and pants on polyester 3D spacer mesh, Swarovski crystals, sequins and overstock studs, finished in EVA-foam. A shopping bag of plexi tubes, rope stoppers, and ropes. Over the knee socks in intarsia. Platform sandals with wooden bases, woven tops, tie-wraps and ropes. A TVDB belt with an embossed buckle. «A fountain of ideas, free-flowing and limitless, yet restriction as a necessity to shape my ideas, a form of focus. It centralizes on a limitation that closes on mistakes. My fascination lies where errors occur and how they offer questions to look at reality».

Way Two: a mask of an upside-down heart and a flower bag in macramé, ropes, tie-wraps, and EVA foam cord endings. A jacket and a pair of shorts in plant-based Koba fiber faux fur, patchwork out of Ecopel, clippers and Montex embroidered charms, one hundred percent polyester. A jacket, cotton and denim with flock and flex leftover foils and ropes. Intarsia and bouclé leggings, knitted yarns, merino wool, acryl, lurex. An embroidery shirt, overknee socks, and platform sandals. «It generates bricolage spirit, where it forces us to play around with the materials on hand, to penetrate the space of a box. Our minds rely on the abundance of the available. I wander in the impossibility to do what I desire».

Way Three: a kimono blazer and a pair of ruffle pants, four color jacquard, in macramé, cord, and an EVA-foam flower finishing. Charms, cuff bracelets, hand-embroidered Montex hangers. A macramé mask, tie-wrap sweater, TVDB belt, Koba-fiber bag, over the knee socks, and platform sandals. «When I was a child, I played with my doll. My mother had given me a strip of broderie anglaise. I spent months with it, redressing my doll with the fabric in every way possible. I believe in the power of playing». Way Four: a macramè mask and skirt, plastic ruffles, metal and nylon studs, metal pearls, rock climbing metal O-rings, Montex hangers. A jumpsuit and kimono, pearls on one hundred percent cotton hand embroidery. A sequined ruffle shirt, one hundred percent cotton. Flower-power rings and a backpack of ropes, rope stoppers, tie-wraps, and EVA foam handmade flowers and cord endings. Charms, cuff bracelets, over the knee socks, and platform sandals. «Designers shape and give functions to each design. I deviate from this. I narrate a story, the desire of the artist, the reflection of one’s surroundings. The medium of fashion conjures the best path to unravel this. Fashion embodies practice, the interaction of layers between the body that wears it and their environment. In this disposition, the power positions. It confronts visions of artistry with directness». Way Five: a dress with a front panel, hand and cornelli embroidery on plastic and by Montex, a back panel, sleeves and rufflea, sublimation print on windtex neoprene, Swarovski and sequins. A ruffle blazer and pair of pants, embroidered matelassé on a viscose base, hand-embroidered clippers, Montex charms. A backpack using a car-seat cover, wools and Swarovski. A macramè mask, over the knee socks, and platform sandals. «Fascination towards rituals and the abnormality of tribes in the contemporary. To reinvent the runway, I turned to the cathedrals. Every year in a Christian church, a procession would travel through our village. It resembles the runway; participants who pass by as they bear objects. In my native language, we speak of ‘dragen’ to identify the verbs ‘to carry’ and ‘to wear’. I developed performers, mirroring versions of myself, carrying the imagery of interdependence and collectivism».

Way Six: a peplum top and pair of pants, hand-embroidered silk voile on a base of Supima, cotton and sequins. A net bag of ropes, tie-wraps, EVA foam cord endings, and braided elastics. A macramè mask and jacket, intarsia and bouclé knitted sweater, and over the knee socks. «The anthology exudes the idea of tribe; a symbol of collectivity, community and belonging. My work intertwines tough times in life with having the opportunity to discuss them with another soul. These experiences made me think about how we deal with difficult situations on our own. In our society,we witness exclusion and nurse doubts, but find commonalities in our dispositions». Way Seven: a mask in macramè, ropes, tie-wraps, and EVA foam cord endings. A backpack using a car-seat cover, hand-embroidered with wool and Swarovskis. A sweater in intarsia, bouclé, yarns, merino wool, acryl, and lurex. A charm cuff necklace in Montex. Over the knee socks in intarsia. Platform sandals with wooden bases, woven tops, tie-wraps and ropes. «People think once they leave their safe place, they will turn into a butterfly, free to roam the space. It does not always end up in such a way. We have to be protected by only half of the cocoon’s shell while the rest is up to us to conquer without a shield. In the pursuit of collectivity, I erased the glory of identification that comes from the face. By blurring its features, a worn mask, anybody could be anyone and gender becomes irrelevant».

Lampoon, Tom van der Borght hat from his latest collection
Tom van der Borght, collection 2022

Thirty-fifth Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography winner

Van der Borght’s compendium of ode to self won the Première Vision Grand Prize of the thirty-fifth Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography. Jonathan Anderson, the founder of JW Anderson and creative director of Loewe, spearheaded the jury admiring Van der Borght’s uncompromising dedication to a new silhouette as a response to the panel’s belief in a decade of newness and originality. Anderson judged alongside with Benjamin Bruno, a stylist and art critic, Tyler Mitchell, a photographer and filmmaker, Michael Gaubert, a sound director, Derek Blasberg, the head of fashion and beauty partnerships at Youtube, Amanda Harlech, a creative consultant, Roonie Cooke Newhouse, the founder and creative director of House + Holme, Olivier Lalanne, Editor-in-Chief of GQ, Tim Blanks, the Editor-at-Large of The Business of Fashion, Olivier Gabet, the Director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, model Kaia Gerber, actor Arnaud Valois, and Christoph Rumpf, the winner of the thirty-fourth Hyères Festival. Villa Noailles in the town of Hyères in Southern France, a dwelling built for Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles in the 1920s, hosted the thirty-fifth Hyères Festival. Van der Borght received a grant of 20,000 euros, a project with Chanel through its Paraeffection subsidiary, a visit at Swarovski’s archives and headquarters in Austria, and a show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin. «Two facets: a graphic collection and the use of disposable plastics, which I translated into fashion, art, luxury and timelessness. Mass production amounts to pollution, for example. With my compilation for the festival, I delved into the alternatives and how materials transform to maximize their uses».

Blanca Li and Tom Van der Borght

Daft Punk’s Around the World music video kicks off with three characters in tracksuits on the right, running up and down the stairs, four swimmers in their swimming suit on the left, jumping down the stairs as they bend their knees and form a diving position, four figures lying on the platform in the center, raising their hips to the beat of the synth, and four protagonists in a skeleton costumes below the platform, resting their heads and playing dead. Every progression foresees movements in synchronicity with the sound, orchestrated collectivity. Blanca Li, the artistic director of Teatros del Canal in Madrid, steered the choreography. The ensemble has riveted Van der Borght. He has resonated with Li’s creations as a choreographer, dancer, and filmmaker ever since he watched the music video. During the Hyères Festival, she discovered his collection. Two weeks after the event, she reached out to him to collaborate. In Madrid, Spain, El Museo del Prado celebrated its 201st anniversary with Li dancing before the painting of The Garden of Earthly Delights of Hieronymus Bosch while wearing one of Van der Borght’s pieces during the festival. He dared to ask Li if she would perform in Van der Borght’s upcoming show. She said yes.

Van der Borght and sustainability

As a neighbor of Antwerp and Brussels, Ghent has drafted a plan to become carbon-neutral by 2050 and the first Belgian city to reach forty percent less CO2 by 2030, while its mobility plan promises a focus on public transport, pedestrians, and cyclists and the abolition of transfer costs and times. When Van der Borght picked out his studio on the outskirts of the city center, it was for the benefit of its atmosphere of tranquility and sustainable outlook, he has since valued it as a driver of his creativity and productivity, and as his research space, design studio and live-in apartment to live in. Although he has a team that assists him, he often works on his own. «Less is more and the practice of sustainability comes into it. I want to make clothes one will own for a long time; I focus on including materials such as the leather made of fish skin, fake fur as an alternative to real animal fur, and corn-based fibers from the companies I collaborate with. I also ask embroiderers who have leftovers of fabrics if they can give them to me. Disposable plastics are present in my collection, and it is an interesting notion since the use of plastic is controversial. I find it difficult to absorb when people blame the materials as we shoulder the responsibility of how to make the most out of the plastic rather than disposing of it after the first use». When Björk sings «I’m going hunting / I’m the hunter / I’ll bring back the goods but I don’t know when» in her track Hunter, the lead in her third studio album Homogenic, Van der Borght affiliates himself with the lyrics as a hunter in a quest to conquer the unexpected with ingenuity.In the music video, Björk, bald and against a white backdrop, twists and turns her neck and head as she shapeshifts into a polar bear. The subtlety of her art runs through Van der Borght’s philosophy. The bombardment of texture, volume and color, the union of playfulness and self-depreciation, and the creator of technicolor. For Tom Van der Borght, normalcy is outdated.

Tom Van Der Borght designer

Fashion designer who lives and works in Ghent. He is a graduate of the Stedelijke Academie voor Schone Kunsten Sint Niklaas. Tom Van Der Borght is not in search of traditional beauty or honey-sweet cutesiness. Bold combinations of bright colors, psychedelic graphics and textures make for a true bombardment of the senses. This new kid on the fashion block is not only exploring the boundaries of traditional beauty. He crosses them to create his own standard of beauty.

Matthew Burgos

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us

check and buy on Prototipo Store
item collections in limited edition
crafted according to our editorial search

Hemp / made in Italy
Lampoon is working to restore
Hemp production in Italy
as hemp is the one and only
natural vegetal fiber sourceable in the country
for more info, please email us at [email protected]

SHARE
Facebook
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Email
WhatsApp
Twitter