Published February 21, 2010
Belgian model Hannelore Knuts’s resemblance to a young Patti Smith put her modeling career into high gear in the early 2000s. Since then, she has become a particularly dominant and soulful presence on the runways, appearing on the covers of several European editions of Vogue and continually cropping up in the photo shoots of maverick photographers like Steven Meisel and Juergen Teller. As a model, the 32-year-old Knuts has inspired enough artists to fill a small museum, but this month she is filling a museum with a very different body of work-one she has curated. UltraMegaLore explores Knuts’s roles as image maker and image selector. The exhibition opens at the end of March at the Modemuseum in Hasselt, the Belgian town near Antwerp where Knuts was born and raised. Knuts began working on the show last May, by compiling a number of covers and shoots that she appeared in. “I have a picture from my Gucci campaign with Mario Testino [fall/winter 1999] and a favorite from the photographs I did with Craig McDean,” she says. But Knuts didn’t want to make a retrospective of her life in fashion. “The show is really about the work of the people who have inspired me,” she explains. She has included paintings, photographs, clothing, and sculptures by a range of artists such as Ugo Rondinone, Azzedine Alaïa, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Danko & Ana Steiner, Edward Lipski, and Elizabeth Peyton. Hasselt, Knuts says, “is so small, it’s always been kind of underground,” but the museum, which is dedicated exclusively to fashion, is vying for a bigger profile on the European cultural circuit. Now that she’s had a taste of curating, Knuts would like to do more in the art world, but for the time being, she’s focusing on modeling-and the color of her clothing. “Just when this whole thing started, I sat next to a psychic on a plane,” Knuts recalls. “She told me I would be facing challenges, but that everything would be okay as long as I wore yellow. Maybe it’s like Dumbo the elephant’s magic feather, but I believe in yellow.”
Photo: Top: Hannelore Knuts in New York, December 2009. Trench Coat: Junn.j. Hair Products: Wella Professionals, including Crystal Styler. Hair: Eugene Souleiman/Streeters. Makeup: Mark Carrasquillo/Art + Commerce. Prop Styling: Stefan Beckman/Exposure NY. Production: North6.