Events

November 12 2007




Villa Eugenie is an "events" company in the most impressive sense of the word. These are not people who organize bridal showers and baby parties for minor movie stars. For the Brussels-based team of Villa Eugenie, led by Etienne Russo, routine means orchestrating a major runway event for a major fashion house. And stunning everyone.



Best known for its catwalk extravaganzas, Villa Eugenie is now involved in not just creating spectacular fashion shows, but staging major events for luxury business in all of its forms - magazine launches, major celebrations, and jewellery, perfume, art and opera installations, corporate events and fairs around the world. The team also advises major fashion brands on store concepts, stores space searches, lighting and branding. Although based in Brussels, Villa Eugenie operates in all major fashion and luxury centers and has a permanent office also in Miami.



We do not envy their task of having to impress the time-hardened fashion buyer or editor, or the celebrities that line up the runways of the famous fashion emporiums. These events are critiqued like major concerts or art exhibitions, and the shows themselves are as much about drama and ever-bigger surprises as they are about the designers, or the fashions - most of which are unwearable by mere mortals anyway.



Villa Eugenie must be doing it right. Year after year, its client list reads like a Who is Who in the fashion world: Chanel, Dries Van Noten, Miu Miu, Maison Martin Margiela, Lanvin, Hermés, Hugo Bosss, Sonia Rykiel, Olivier Strelli, and the
Adidas-backed Y-3.



These are all major brands with huge production budgets. But even when you know that sky is not the budget's limit, it is still astonishing that the same production company can be creating several shows in one season - all attended by the same posse of cynical seen-it-all viewers - and not start to appear stale or formulaic. Boundless creativity and ruthless attention to detail, both most likely still sparked for each project by Etienne Russo himself, are the cornerstones of such a feat.



Russo started humbly in the 1980s as an artistic and creative barman at Mirano, a fashionable nightclub in Brussels. He was soon creating major events there and drawing serious attention. His first real fashion client was Dries Van Noten for whom he worked as a model, salesman, lighting engineer, cook and extraordinary producer of Van Noten's first fashion show in Paris in 1991.



In 1995, Russo started his own production firm, naming it after the charming villa where it was located. Since 2004, the Villa Eugenie team has worked out of a former factory close to Brussels South station (Bruxelles-Midi, Brussel-Zuid). The space, covered by a vast glass canopy, was redesigned by the Ghent-based architect Glenn Sestig



This is the same man who this year opened his first luxury hotel Sestig Hotel. In the cubic Huis Van Waes building in Ghent that he reconstructed. By Tuija Seipell



Seen any other interesting events we should know about? e-mail [email protected]


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