GALO: You also design your own clothing. Do you incorporate your designs into your photos?

VI: Almost every piece of costume and jewelry in my photos is self-made. I find it’s a part of my work to create the costumes and headdresses for my models myself. Next to that, I really enjoy wearing those historical dresses to my balls. [She winks again.]

GALO: How does fashion influence your photography?

VI: I’m not really interested in the whole fashion-world. It tells no story, and therefore, it is not valuable for me. Of course, I do very much adore the high-fashion designs that create pieces of art and beautiful shows on the catwalk. Seeing those creations triggers me to think further for my own historical gowns. As long as it’s elaborate and elegant, it fits in my world of romanticism.

GALO: You model in many of your photographs. Why is that?

VI: I used to model often in my older pictures. It’s just because I like dressing up and creating something visual. Nowadays, I always work with models.

GALO: You’re based in Europe. Does your home country of Belgium or Europe in general influence your work?

VI: I recently moved to Germany, but lived my whole life in Belgium. Europe is a treasure box filled with castles, churches, and fantastic historical sites. There is so much beauty to discover in every country that I don’t know where to start. Yes, it very much influenced my work. I had the pleasure of working in fantastic castles in Belgium and abroad, without those fabulous locations, it would not be possible to create the things that I do.

GALO: Is there a favorite picture you’ve taken?

VI: I think “Fallen for the Unicorn” remains my favorite photograph. It embodies everything that I stand for: a legend, a fair maiden and a real unicorn, a wonderful castle, a glow of magic, and a drop of melancholy.

GALO: Conversely, is there a shoot that was the hardest for you to do?

VI: I cannot think of one specifically… generally, I don’t like it when other people give their comment on how things should be done during a shoot. I have my own way of doing things and I know that it will be fine in the end. When others start commenting on that, I get all confused…

GALO: Your work has been exhibited in places such as Gallerie Lucien Schweitzer (Luxembourg) in 2006. What’s it like seeing your work in a gallery?

VI: It’s always nice seeing your work exhibited. It frames your work where you’re currently proud of [it], and that makes you happy. [She smiles.]

On the other hand, looking back on old exhibits is sometimes a bit depressing because you don’t understand anymore why you were so fond [of] that work at that time. We evolve all the time, and that should be like that of course, but it sometimes feels a bit odd.

GALO: When was your first gallery exhibition? What was the theme?

VI: The first one was a duo exhibition with my father. The theme was “ontmaskerd,” covering photos from masked people and photos from the ones behind the mask. It was big fun because we did everything ourselves and had so much family and friends coming over to watch it.

GALO: As if you weren’t busy enough, you organize a number of events and parties. When did you start doing this, and what is the purpose?

VI: I started doing this for an opening of one of my photo exhibitions in a small church in Antwerp. Guests could only come on invitation and [they had to be] dressed up in evening wear. It was a grand success and immediately set note for all my next dress-up balls.

Nowadays, we organize many events, some of them very exclusive, some of them very mainstream. But they all have one thing in common: a historically-inspired theme in a historical location and an audience with a big passion for art, fashion, and costume.

The purpose is to translate my photographs into real life, making [it] possible to physically step through these portals into another world where everything is a lot more spectacular [than it is] in real life. [She smiles.]

GALO: Do you travel often and does it influence your work?

VI: I travel often… maybe not to very exotic places, but to places [that] are interesting at least! Local folklore inspires me a lot, so we always go searching for that, wherever we are.

Sometimes we shoot on location abroad; that’s always a lot of improvisation, but that’s [what] makes it also thrilling.

GALO: Is there a favorite destination you’ve been to?

VI: I cannot say that I prefer one destination over the other. I [have] traveled maybe 10 times to Venice, and I truly adore the city, but that doesn’t make it my favorite destination — though I love Italy maybe more than any other country in Europe.

GALO: What do you see in your future?

VI: My future has already begun. We recently moved into an old mansion in the middle of the forest, the place is [truly] a dream come true! But the dream comes with a lot of renovation. [She laughs.]

We plan to organize exclusive balls and salons here. Next to that, the place is a source of constant inspiration, and can also become a basis for people with the same ideas and visions.

GALO: Anything else you’d like to say?

VI: Thank you for the opportunity to get an interview in your magazine!

GALO: Thank you.

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