When you think of tailoring, do you think of these names? Yves Saint Laurent, Ralph Lauren, Guccio Gucci, and Giorgio Armani. We got to know two generations of Sewists: Paul Vervenne and Dille Ach.
Paul Vervenne – Retired tailor
Paul Vervenne is currently 85, and he’s had a great passion for making clothes ever since he was 18 years old. He inherited the sewing gene from his mum, but would later turn that passion into his career. Meet Paul Vervenne, retired tailor.
‘My mum had a sewing machine and made garments for the whole family. As a teenager, I was in awe of her skill. I became intensely curious, which led her to teach me the tricks of the trade. It would seem the sewing gene is rather tenacious, given that I’ve yet to put down my needle and thread.’ When Paul Vervenne was 18, he began his tailor's education and training at the vocational school for tailors in Sint-Kruis (Bruges). ‘I spent four years in boarding school. I would have done anything for it. I would catch the train during the wee hours of a Monday morning and not come back home until Saturday afternoon. It became a huge part of my life from an early age.
‘Follow your dreams because it can only make you happier.’
Paul Vervenne graduated summa cum laude and set up his own sewing workshop brimming with confidence. ‘I'm not really that big myself which is why I specialised in non-standard sizes. That way my customers could also have perfect tailor-made clothing.’ His aim was for anybody to be able to shine in their outfit. And at the end of the day, he pulled it off too.
How did he do it? Paul drew his own designs or used existing patterns for men's clothing from his fabric supplier, Rundschau München. ‘My customers were mainly men, but I was more than happy to assist women and children as well.’
Paul worked as a tailor for an impressive 40 years. He followed that up with early retirement but lounging about was hardly his style. And that’s how he ended up sewing clothes until he was 80 years old. He's currently still involved in the business, but mainly for his family’s sake. He never minds doing mending and alterations for them. And sewing face masks was also something he felt called to take part in. Quitting sewing altogether – is that in the cards? No. That’s a life he’d rather not imagine.
Dille Ach – Aspiring fashion designer
Dille Ach is from a tiny West Flemish village where fashion plays virtually no role in daily life. And yet, he stepped out of his comfort zone at 20 to study fashion at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts Ghent (KASK), a renowned art school.
From secondary school onwards, Ach became increasingly fascinated with the fashion world. ‘One of my teachers introduced me to an Amsterdam fashion designer. I got to know him better and that's how I met new fashion students from Antwerp. The more I learned about the world of fashion, the surer I was that it was what I wanted to do.’
The fashion study programme that Ach is currently enrolled in prepares future fashion designers for life in the industry. Students find out who they are there, and the result is that the most creative spirits flourish. Dille doesn’t have any concrete plans for the future yet, but whatever they are, they're sure to be in the fashion sector. He’s considering working for a fashion brand. His big dream is to start his own fashion brand with a few other designers, but for now, he's leaving his options open.
Dille and art are a match made in heaven. For example, he also enjoys creating poetry, prose, storytelling, music, drawing, and painting. ‘It’s simple. Everything is connected. I couldn't design without being able to draw from all these other media too.’
‘Making clothes covers so many different elements. My favourite is the design process itself, but to turn that into reality, I obviously have to spend loads of time at my sewing machine. The more I do it, the more I love it.’