Bambi, Jean Paul Gaultier and lots of G-strings: ‘UltraMegaLore’ by Hannelore Knuts

Let me guess your thoughts, for those of you living in Belgium: I’ve seen that face way too often, recently, and that poster too, so that exhibition can’t be any good, can it? That’s what I was thinking too, until I visited UltraMegaLore and I had to admit that Hannelore Knuts‘ exhibition in Hasselt actually is quite entertaining. Too bad though that you can’t have what I’ve had: a private tour by the famous Belgian model. Her anecdotes make UltraMegaLore even more fun to look at. But even though she won’t be there when you’ll be visiting the Modemuseum, there are always those clothes (Gaultier, Ackermann), pictures (Juergen Teller) and works of art (Elizabeth Peyton, Duane Michals, Jeff Koons, Luc Tuymans and Robert Mapplethorpe) to look at.

There’s one picture that you’ll probably won’t even notice. Hannelore Knuts dressed in black, wearing a Siouxsie T-shirt, somewhere in a green meadow. ‘It’s from my first photo-session ever’, she explained, along a tour on the  day before the opening of her exhibition in Hasselt, her hometown. ‘The pictures were rejected. I was too much looking like a heroine-junkie. And magazines still wanted those classic models. But three weeks later I was walking on every catwalk in Paris. All of a sudden my look was the look of the day. Almost overnight everything had changed.’

Knuts stresses the fact that she hasn’t made UltraMegaLore out of vanity. ‘This is not because I wanted to show everybody how beautiful I am, or all the things I’ve accomplished during my career. It just seemed like a fun thing to do, bringing all these things together. That’s why we’ve not opted for a sort of chronological story. This exhibition is basically how I am too: quite chaotic.’

Nevertheless: it’s impossible not to be impressed by what the Belgian model has accomplished. Looking at all those pictures, by all those famous photographers (Teller, Mondino, Testino, Van Lamsweerde & Matadin) makes you realize that the 32-year old model really is a fashion icon. They’ve illustrated this in a fun way too: by covering the walls of one tiny room by all the pictures you’ll find on the internet if you google Hannelore Knuts.

The biggest room downstairs is for Jean Paul Gaultier. ‘I didn’t know anything about the fashion world when I started out. Gaultier was the only big name I was familiar with: I had seen that bustier he had made for Madonna. In the meantime I’ve worked for him probably more than for any other designer. When he was having a retrospective show, I got to wear one of his classic dresses. Finally I’m working with a designer my mother knows too, I couldn’t help thinking.’

In the next room Knuts presents some dresses by Haider Ackermann. ‘A dear friend. I like the fact that he has given me some yellowish clothes, because yellow is my favourite color. I once missed a flight. The taxi driver told me that everything happens for a reason. On the next flight I took, I was sitting next to an old lady. She told me to wear yellow. So I bought a yellow scarf. The next week I got a phone call from Juergen Teller and we did an amazing photo shoot together.’

You wonder why there’s a big Bambi by Edward Lipski on display? ‘That’s because when I was on tour with my ex-boyfriend Tim Vanhamel and his band Millionaire, all the musicians kept on calling me Bambi. The music you hear in this room is especially composed for me by Tim. He’s my soul mate.’  There’s a poem by Vanhamel too, in an other room, facing a picture by Robert Mapplethorpe of Patti Smith. ‘I really wanted that picture because way too often people tell me I look a lot like her.’ And yes, if you’re looking at that black-and-white picture, you’d swear it is Knuts.

She’s made quite a lot of friends along the way. That you can tell, by visiting UltraMegaLore. Take the example of the Indian dress by Christian Joy, for instance:. ‘I’m really glad to have this one. Karen O was wearing it only a few weeks ago during a Yeah Yeah Yeahs gig.’ Another example? Nick Cave’s ‘Welcome’  in the catalogue. Or that Duane Michals photo shoot, with Knuts actually being the model.

The attic looks like everybody else’s attic: it’s a total mess. Lots of clothes and shoes. And one funny looking showcase with lots of flesh-coloured G-strings. ‘That’s because the G-string is every model’s uniform. You’re always wearing one. It’s the only thing that never ever changes during your career.’

‘UltraMegaLore’, through June 6, Modemuseum, Hasselt. The book/catalogue (in Dutch and English) is published by Ludion.


One Response to “Bambi, Jean Paul Gaultier and lots of G-strings: ‘UltraMegaLore’ by Hannelore Knuts”

  1. […] Utopia Parkway Someone to trust when it comes to art, beauty & culture « Bambi, Jean Paul Gaultier and lots of G-strings: ‘UltraMegaLore’ by Hannelore Knuts […]

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