Patrick Van Heurck
An institution in the world of fashion since 1989, Bellerose developed its line of children’s clothes in the early 2000s. Founder and Artistic Director, Patrick Van Heurck, works in close collaboration with his son, Derek, and stylist, Stéphanie Ley, to create clothing for girls and boys that breaks all the rules. Everything is designed in their 3000m2 office on the outskirts of Brussels, where each of their four collections, for men, women, boys and girls, are grounded by one core theme. We caught up with Patrick and Stéphanie to learn more about the Bellerose universe and how it is inspired by their team’s travels, passion for architecture and shared desire to tell a story.
PATRICK, CAN YOU TELL US HOW THE BELLEROSE STORY BEGAN?
I was a distributor for Ralph Lauren in Europe in the early 80s, and again in 1989. Together with some friends, we decided to create our own brand – initially just for fun, really, something extra for us. It was a menswear collection. Very casual. Together, we opened a boutique in the style of a general store, where we sold out of everything because the collection was very small. Next, we transported our men’s collection to 90s France and, bit by bit, we added items for women and then children in order to develop our brand. The idea was not to create anything classic but also not be known as fashion victims either. My son, Derek, joined the boys' styling team. He then took care of [the] men’s [collection]. And that’s how it started. He’s very creative and we’re very in tune with each other.
Stéphanie, when did you join the team?
In 2002. I knew Laetitia, Patrick’s partner, whom I met during an internship. She designed the women’s fashion and did a season of children’s clothes too, but it was too much work. So, they started looking for a stylist and, as I designed children’s clothes, everything seemed to just fall into place. The style of clothes suited me because it was close to what I was used to in terms of inspiration - the pronounced taste for architecture. For me, Bellerose Kids represents more a lifestyle than anything else.
So, architecture is one of your great passions?
PATRICK: If I wasn’t a designer, I would be an architect. That’s certain. I love the blend seen in architecture, like in our collections. We mix feminine with masculine, or style cashmere with trainers, for example. For our boutique layouts, we have a team of two people who we have creative meetings with twice a month, where each person explains what they would like to do. As with the collections, everything needs to be coherent.
STÉPHANIE: This could even be just a small detail, maybe a well-designed chair or rug in a catalogue. The work done in our boutique display windows is always in line with one same theme.
Has New York also been a source of inspiration?
PATRICK: My taste for the US started when I was in the Ralph Lauren School. I lived over there for a year. I visited lots of places, and I saw a lot. They invented sportswear, jeans [et cetera]. I fed off of all that, of course. But today, it’s developed into something greater.
STÉPHANIE: Our original inspiration came from the US. It’s the root of workwear, as well as military and vintage clothing. Today, our work is very authentic, modern and has an offbeat contemporary style. Even if it was the case in the beginning, Bellerose isn’t just associated with New York anymore. It’s more cosmopolitan.
How do you come up with your collections?
STÉPHANIE: We’re always looking for a shared theme among our men’s, women’s, girls’ and boys’ collections. For winter 2015-2016, for example, we were inspired by Pop Art and 80s Pop-Punk groups, like Blondie and the Sex Pistols. A graphic designer then works on the four collections and a development team on the materials. Then we look at it all together to find a common theme for the collection. Next, each of us creates our own line, but always with the common theme in mind, whether that be pretty lining, topstitching or a button.
Do places also inspire you?
STÉPHANIE: I find inspiration everywhere - in the street, where I go out, on Pinterest, on blogs, whenever I go to Tokyo or Paris. It’s really when I travel that I’m inspired and that I find places that I like: like Shoreditch in London, or certain areas of Tokyo. For children’s clothes, I like places where you can find fantastical worlds or new concepts, like Bonton in Paris. Elsewhere, I don’t necessarily look at children’s collections, but I’m very attentive to everything around me.
How would you describe the Bellerose child?
STÉPHANIE: They could live anywhere. It’s more a question of attitude, lifestyle. I imagine them to be free, without any established life rules. They don’t try to be trendy but feel free to create their own style by mixing old basics with typical Bellerose details – elegant chinos paired with a football shirt, for example, or a tutu with a sweatshirt. The Bellerose kid is whimsical, they’re not scared to get dirty or hurt. We love the idea of not just creating little adults, and for them to be at ease in their clothes.
What would you say separates you from other brands?
PATRICK: I think the spirit of the collection pleases people, as well as the price, and it’s very welcoming. I also think it’s quite unique to have the same running theme for men, women and children. It’s unheard of. Moreover, what we do is extremely urban. We dress people who don’t get changed three times a day. Whether it’s the weekend or during the week, they put the same thing on during the day and when they go out at night. Bellerose is a lifestyle, which is reflected in the feel of the brand. It’s relaxed and familiar, there are no rules.