“Fashion has always been part of my life.”
Presenter Greet Samyn on fashion as an expression of your personal identity.
With her warm voice, presenter Greet Samyn either gets people moving or offers them a much-needed moment of relaxation. Greet sees her voice as a medium for imparting knowledge, something she does in many different ways.
Together with Clara De Decker, Greet is the voice of the morning radio programme Espresso on Klara, although broadcasting is not her only passion. She gives introductions to concerts, presents events, lends her voice to commercials and corporate videos, and often leads spoken-word labs for thirteen-year-old adolescents. This long line-up of passions is concluded by fashion.
Greet carefully selects the looks for her presentations but fashion means so much more to her: it is a way of expressing her identity. It is no coincidence, therefore, that she is one of Furore’s first-ever ambassadors. Greet is a woman with personality and who has two feet firmly on the ground. She loves the variety in her professional career and is brimming with energy and humour.
Presenting a morning programme requires a necessary degree of discipline. It’s not a rhythm for everyone and yet you combine it with a busy diary.
“Right. If you’re getting up at four in the morning then you need to be disciplined enough to go to bed on time the night before. The programme starts at six and it’s not only your voice that has to be awake, but also your head. As a presenter, you have to deal with the technology, you have to keep a constant eye on the time, you answer the telephone while the music is playing, you respond to incoming messages and if something unexpected happens – like the death of Ennio Morricone – you have to be able to rapidly change the programme. It’s always better when your thoughts are focused. Radio is also a snapshot. You can’t do it again or repeat it and, as a presenter, you have the final responsibility for the quality of the broadcast. But I love both it and the rhythm. I’m a morning person.” (laughs)
“I avoid the traffic jams in and out of Brussels and feel as though I’ve got a head start on the day. When the programme finishes at nine o’clock, we sit down with the team to discuss the previous broadcast and then I start preparing the next one. Listening to music, preparing interviews, pre-recording the guests ... the days are stimulating.”
In addition to presenting, you also manage the technical side... A radio programme is more than just jumping in and having a chat about music.
“Absolutely! And I certainly don’t do it alone. I work as part of an enthusiastic team. The editors compile reports, gather news and reactions and conduct pre-meetings with our guests. Our producer chooses the subjects and the music compiler determines the pieces we’ll broadcast. We’re like cogs in a machine.
I listen to the music in advance and will do some factual research. I prepare the interviews by going through the editor’s input and reading other interviews with the guest speaker. This way, I can give it my own interpretation and everything comes together.”
You host the Klara Festival and the Flanders Festival Ghent, but you also regularly introduce concerts. How did you get started?
“It was coincidental, really, like many things in life. Something comes your way and you have to be open to it. For me, it all started in 1997 during my second year at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven, where I studied the spoken word. A music teacher at the Lemmens Institute was looking for someone to present his series of chamber music concerts – performed by young musicians. At the time, I also played the clarinet and had a feel for classical music. So I thought: why not?
I’m still presenting the series and I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity that he gave me at the age of nineteen. There was someone in the audience who asked me to do another concert, which still happens to this day, and so the ball keeps rolling. When you work at Klara, the combination is often a logical consequence and you give concert introductions in addition to your radio programme.”
What memories do those first concert introductions evoke in you?
“I did far too much research.” (laughs) “I read everything about the piece of music in question and as a result my texts were far too long and crammed with facts. Kill your darlings, that’s the lesson I learned. Keep it clear and concise, because at that moment people have an average attention span of three minutes. Plus, I also learnt what I can’t do. Don’t ask me to present ‘Night of the Proms’, for example. There are other and much better people."
“Timeless, but with a twist.
Above all, my clothes must underscore my identity."
It’s not only your voice that’s important, but also your presence. How important is fashion to you?
“Since I was a child, it has been a form of self-expression and a way to distinguish myself from others. As a child, I knew exactly what I wanted to wear and what I didn’t – to the great frustration of my parents.” (laughs) “My parents aren’t really fashion conscious, so I don’t know where it comes from, but fashion has always been part of my life. As a result, I can reconstruct the different stages of my life based on the clothes I was wearing.”
So you select your looks deliberately?
“Certainly. The image has to be just right for a presentation. I’m not going to wear a bright red dress to Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ or Jimmy Choo stilettos for an academic presentation. I adapt to the occasion or the concert. What music will be played? Is there a dress code for the audience? It’s also a form of respect towards others. Sometimes, I think it’s a pity that people nowadays don’t make as much of an effort to look good, like they did in the past. I always wear lipstick, for example. With red lips, people always say you look great. I even wear lipstick when I’m jogging.” (laughs)
How would you describe your own style?
“Timeless, but with a twist. Above all, my clothes must underscore my identity. They should not, by any means, be loud or trend-sensitive. A sober black dress with a striking jewel, for example, that’s what I love. Fashion with class.
Has this always been the case?
“My style has evolved, of course. It’s become a little more feminine. I’m also more daring these days. I wear more high heels, dare to show off my legs... My clothes used to be mainly functional, but when standing on stage, they also need to be beautiful. For the Ghent Festival and Klara Festival, I plan in advance and select an outfit per concert based on the music and the location. I can’t stand on stage in an outfit that I don’t feel good in or don’t like.”
So Furore could have been made for you?
“Yes, I like the slogan for ‘women at the age of influence’, it’s very apt. When you’ve reached a certain age, it’s less imperative to prove yourself. You’ve amassed experience and expertise and it’s something you’re allowed to radiate. I find both the clothing and the communication classy and it’s fantastic that Furore has opted for slow fashion and no end-of-season sales, with perfectly combinable items and a Never Out of Stock collection.
The clothing is beautiful but also functional and efficient. I can hop on my bike in a jumpsuit and pair of flats, change into heels on arrival, and I’m ready for my presentation. And because everything is easy to combine with other Furore pieces and the existing items in my wardrobe, I don’t have to think too much about what I put on in the morning. The collection is timeless, but certainly not boring. I always get compliments in a Furore look, especially during a presentation. Women are extra alert to what I’m wearing and talk to me afterwards.”
You’ve just mentioned slow fashion. Is this important to you?
“Of course. My buying behaviour has also evolved, just like my style. Today, I buy fewer items and shop more consciously. Every season, I buy a stage outfit with the intention of wearing it for a long time. And I’ve noticed that the designer looks that I consciously purchase tend to stay in my wardrobe for longer. I also never throw clothes away. I sell a lot through Vinted and sometimes I’ll organise a closet sale to give my clothes a second life.”
You clearly love fashion. But is there anything you don’t like spending money on?
“Extremely expensive watches and designer handbags. Thousands of euros for a handbag is not my thing. I’d rather have an equally beautiful, handmade and high-quality handbag from the Belgian designer Lies Mertens or the Dutch company Wandler.”
Is there an item in your wardrobe that you’re particularly attached to?
“I’m addicted to ankle boots, at any rate. I have the Belgian brands Ellen Verbeek and Nathalie Verlinden. But my favourite ankle boots are from A.F. Vandevorst. I have them repaired over and over again and I purchased the same pair last week because they’re discontinuing the brand. So I had to have them again.” (laughs)
Furore focuses on ‘women at the age of influence’. A baseline and vision that really appeals to you, as mentioned above. Which woman do you look up to?
“In general, I admire women who dare to make a clear choice regardless of what is expected of them as women. Women who, for example, establish their own business, step out of the rat race or consciously choose not to have children.
If I had to choose just one woman, then it would be my mother. She gave me her healthy dose of level-headedness and has always encouraged me to do what I want. She herself worked for ten years before she had children (quite late). When I was born, she chose to become a housewife. She sacrificed a lot for me and my brother and stood resolutely behind that choice. She chose to be there for us and doesn’t regret it. As a woman, you have to do so much: you have to look good, you have to make a career, you have to have children ... Sometimes you just have to choose and whatever decision you make, it means letting go of something else, but it ultimately makes your life easier. The fact that she stepped out of the rat race and dared to choose is, in my view, immensely powerful.”
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