Born in Vilvoorde, Belgium, in 1973, Véronique Branquinho studied foreign languages and fine art before moving on to fashion design at Antwerp’s Royal Academy. After graduating in 1995, she worked for several companies (including Prada) and finally launched her own label in 1997 in Paris. Branquinho showed until 2009, making a comeback in 2012 with the financial support of Italian manufacturing company Gibo. Branquinho is the Sofia Coppola of fashion. Not only does she constantly reference music, film, and popular culture, but her main inspiration is the female character, and more specifically the thin line between woman and girl. The notion of womanliness and coming of age is a recurring theme in her collections, and her designs play with materials and shapes associated with traditional femininity, such as satin, lace, and chiffon.
Branquinho is also known as the “queen of pleats” for her constant re-elaboration of the pleating technique, especially in skirts. For the spring/summer collection of 1999, for instance, Branquinho designed silhouettes that mixed men’s suits with school uniforms featuring her signature pleated skirts. The clothes aimed to cover the body completely and communicated an intellectual austerity. Semitransparent shirts, however, added an element of subtle sexuality that made the looks less severe. This balance between desire and restraint has become a trademark of Branquinho’s women’s wear.
Film history has always been an important source of inspiration for Branquinho. The spring/summer 2005 women’s collection referenced the 1970s French soft-core erotica movie Emmanuelle. The runway show opened with models sitting on peacock chairs, an allusion to the movie’s original poster, and the clothing celebrated the film’s protagonist as an icon of effortless chic through flowing skirts and relaxed tailoring. Similarly, her menswear collection for fall/winter 2003 seemed to reference the protagonists of poliziottesco Italian movies from the 1970s. Turtle necks, leather coats, and woolen trousers in natural and subdued tones offered a modern reinterpretation of an often overlooked masculine style. Her comeback collection in 2012 was once again inspired by a film, this time Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, which portrays the troubled friendship between two teenage girls. The contrast between the apparent innocence of young girls and the disturbing feelings they secretly nurture provided the inspiration for the collection, which revolved around chromatic and textural juxtapositions.
Branquinho, together with Raf Simons, was selected in 1999 to create two collections for the luxury leather brand Ruffo Research, a fruitful experience that she repeated with several brands. In 2009 she was appointed artistic director of the world’s oldest luxury goods company, Delvaux, for whom she designs timeless bags and leather accessories. Under the guidance of Branquinho, designers such as Kimiko Yoshida and Bruno Pieters were invited to collaborate for the Studio Delvaux line, the experimental branch of the label. She subsequently collaborated with shoe brand Camper and underwear company Marie Jo L’Aventure.
Branquinho’s work has been featured in several museum exhibitions. She first took part in the Florence Biennale in 1998 with a fashion film, and the following year backstage photographs from her shows by Raf Coolen, Bert Houbrechts, and Willy Vanderperre were exhibited at Colette in Paris. In 2001 she participated in Walter Van Beirendonck’s project “Mode 2001 Landed Geland” in Antwerp. There she also had her retrospective at MoMu in 2008, entitled “Moi, Véronique Branquhino TouTe Nue.” Since 2002 she has also been teaching at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.