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Kaat Tilley comes from Brussels, has roots in Mechelen, and studied at the Antwerp Fashion Academy. She graduated there cum laude with the theme for her final collection Mahler and Venice .
She has been designing since 1983 in a highly personal ethereal style. Her fondness of fairytales was ever present in her collections, which resulted in Kaat designing mostly wedding dresses and theater costumes, inspired by magical creatures, princesses and her own paintings.
Tilley designed books for her collections with fine intricate drawings, almost like artwork. Kaat Tilley’s pattern studies resulted in almost irregular yet structured shapes. The dresses and skirts are always long, and consist of layer upon layer, fine knits. Piping, embroidery, smocking and little pieces of knitwear at the wrists, elbows, add couture-like detailing.
In this manner Kaat Tilley said she didn’t regard herself as a fashion designer pur sang, neither did she occupy herself with trends. Giacometti, Hundertwasser and impressionist art were quoted as her main inspirations.
Kaat Tilley also talked about ‘beauty’ being the red line through her collections: “beauty is an expression of our attempt to overcome tristesse…”
The Escape line is cheaper in execution and material, made mainly from jersey. Kaat Tilley has also been making Frederiek — a collection for little girls — since 1994.
1997 was the first year in which she held a show during the Paris prêt-a-porter week