The Belgian Fashion Awards 2023 celebrated the best of Belgian fashion on Thursday evening at the historic Handelsbeurs in Antwerp. The awards, which have been organized since 2017 by Flanders DC, MAD Brussels, Wallonie-Bruxelles Design Mode and Weekend Knack/ Le Vif Weekend, aim to showcase the creativity and diversity of the talents in the Belgian fashion sector to the world.

An international jury, led by president Serge Carreira, Head of Emerging Brands Initiative at the Fédération de la Haute Couture in Paris, selected the eight winners from various categories. For the first time, an award was also presented for the Accessory Designer of the Year. The winners received their awards during a festive ceremony that highlighted the achievements and innovations of Belgian fashion.

Here is the list of all the winners:

Jury Prize: Jan-Jan Van Essche
The Jury Prize 2023 went to fashion designer Jan-Jan Van Essche, who founded his eponymous fashion label in 2010. He is highly regarded internationally by fashion connoisseurs, despite staying relatively under the radar. He made a significant international impression with his first show during the Pitti Uomo in 2023. The jury praised his authenticity, consistency, and very clear identity. “Jan-Jan Van Essche brought slow fashion even before the phenomenon had a name. He deserves the Jury Prize because he demonstrates that it’s not about the size of your business but about your talent.”

Designer of the Year: Anthony Vaccarello
Anthony Vaccarello, creative director at Saint Laurent since 2016, was honored with the Designer of the Year 2023 title. The jury unanimously praised his work: “Anthony knows how to bring change in an interesting way at a high level, both for men and women. Not only did he make Saint Laurent relevant again, but he has been building his trajectory for a very long time with a certain consistency that has never been rewarded until now. It’s time to pay tribute to that.”

Emerging Talent of the Year: Igor Dieryck
The Emerging Talent of the Year award was given to young fashion designer Igor Dieryck. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 2022, and then worked for Meryll Rogge and Acne Studios. Currently, he contributes to the menswear leather, sportswear, and tailoring team at the fashion house Hermès. He also won three awards at the renowned Hyères festival this fall. Igor Dieryck was praised by the jury for his determination and hypercreative, almost poetic designs.

Professional of the Year: Frederik Heyman
The Professional of the Year award was given to digital artist Frederik Heyman, who used to be a fashion photographer. He switched to multimedia image-making about a decade ago, creating hyper-realistic 3D worlds with avatars of people and objects. He makes conceptual, digital installations and videos that explore the relationship between technology and the human body. He has worked with brands like Y/Project, Burberry, Nike and Diesel, as well as artists like Arca and Lady Gaga. He also provided props such as a moon chariot and a Venus shell for Beyoncé’s recent Renaissance tour. The jury admired his groundbreaking use of technology and his meticulous work process with a flair for fashion.

Changemaker of the Year: Laetitia Bica
The Changemaker of the Year award went to Laetitia Bica, a contemporary artist who puts research at the core of her work. She is a professional photographer who works in various fields, such as publishing, fashion, videoclips, theater and dance. She has a unique vision that challenges the stereotypes of the human body in the age of social media. She offers a creative and expansive view of the human body, using different media and techniques. The jury praised Laetitia for her vision and her artistic endeavors.

Most Promising Graduate of the Year: Leslie Novignon
The Most Promising Graduate of the Year award was awarded to Leslie Novignon, who graduated with a master’s degree in fashion design and pattern making from Haute École Francisco Ferrer in Brussels. She created a graduate collection titled ‘Rite of Passage,’ which was inspired by her quest for identity as a creative mind and the representation of Africa’s past and present. She made a collection of ‘totem’ silhouettes that reflected her heritage and culture. The jury was fascinated by the way Leslie integrated Africa into her work and celebrated her as a positive change in fashion.

Brand of the Year: Orta
The audience award for Brand of the Year went to the Belgian fashion label Orta, which stands for ‘objective,’ ‘responsible,’ ‘trendy,’ and ‘affordable’ in French. The label was founded by Marion Schoutteten in 2017 as an online project, and it focuses on sustainability in everything it does. It launched the ‘Orta La Suite’ project, where clothes are made from scratch in Europe, from the cultivation of the material to the production of the pieces. Marion and her husband Gauthier also opened an Orta boutique in Brussels, and they have a team of 30 colleagues and around 400 seamstresses working for Orta from France to Portugal.

Accessory Designer of the Year: Sarah Levy
The Accessory Designer of the Year award was presented for the first time in the history of the Belgian Fashion Awards, and it was given to Sarah Levy. She was an architect for ten years before she decided to pursue a master’s degree in Accessories at La Cambre and start her own label. She won the Prix Artagnon in 2018 and the Audience Award in 2019 at the Hyères Festival with her first collection. She has a experimental approach to accessories, and she has worked with brands like Marine Serre, Givenchy, Patou and Hermès. The jury recognized her work as very distinctive and promising, and they wanted to highlight the person behind the accessories.