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Pieces from the contemporary collection — of which 90% are by designers who are either Antwerpians themselves or graduated from Antwerp’s legendary Royal Academy fashion school — aren’t stored in bags, at least not at the moment. But “once the piece comes into the museum, it’s a museum object,” says Mertens. “So for me there is no difference between a blouse by Dries and a 19th century blouse. Sometimes a designer asks to do a photo shoot with a piece they’ve donated and we say, ‘Sorry, it’s no longer possible.’ Because here for instance, you see there’s a stain probably due to makeup — that’s the problem with photo shoots. For us it’s a museum object, which means that we stick to certain conditions.”