Projects & collaborations

You can read about our most impactful projects below. We’ll add on as we go, so come back later to see what projects we have in the works!


For AW16, Essentiel has teamed up with Designers Against AIDS (DAA). The result is a capsule collection inspired by punk couture and 90s club culture with the profits of the sales going to DAA to create awareness about HIV/AIDS.

Creative Director Inge Onsea considers it essential to support organizations such as DAA. She was influenced by ‘punk couture’ and 90s club culture – perhaps unsurprisingly, this is the period in which the fight against HIV/AIDS took on a broader social meaning. Icons such as Boy George, Keith Haring, Stephen Sprouse and Leigh Bowery along with drag queens and club kids were all drawn on as sources of inspiration for the collection.

The collection features short body-con dresses, see-through lacy playsuits and tongue-in-cheek quotes such as ‘Smoking Hot Essentiel’ and ‘Essentiel is Burning’ (in reference to the film Paris is Burning).
While the collection is aimed at women, the designs are unisex, making it perfect for those with a daring streak.



DAA + EASTPAK Artist Studio

Eastpak Artist Studio is a project that offers a platform for established and up-and-coming artists to use their creativity to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS amongst youngsters. The project lets young talent and renowned artists explode their wittiness and creative compulsions on the most classic and cult EASTPAK backpack: the Padded Pak’r®.

Check out the EASTPAK Artist Studio website!

For our second year collaborating, the 2013 edition involves 56 artists from 14 countries on 3 continents.

For our third year collaborating, Jean Paul Gaultier , Manolo Blahnik, Walter Van Beirendonck and wildcard competition winners KRJST are part of 16 well known and avantgarde designers and artists who customized a special backpack for an online charity auction on World Aids Day, December 1st. Walter Van Beirendonck, one of the designers has some valuable advice for the weekend as well: “Keep on dreaming the world awake and play it safe!”

We are always excited to have so many wonderful creative people joining the fight against AIDS!

Fashion Against AIDS
– a collaboration with H&M

DAA conceptualized and collaborated for 5 years with giant fashion retailer Hennes & Mauritz on a yearly global collection and campaign titled “Fashion Against AIDS”.

Over the years we collaborated with some of the world‘s most acclaimed musicians and fashion designers, such as Timbaland, Katharine Hamnett, Tokio Hotel, Katy Perry, Roisin Murphy, Pharrell Williams/N.E.R.D., Estelle, Yoko Ono, Dita Von Teese, Dangerous Muse, Cyndi Lauper, Yelle, Robyn, Rihanna… At the start in 2008 ‘Fashion against AIDS’ was available in 27 countries and by the 5th edition in 2012 in 43 countries, reaching millions of young people. The sales of these collections allowed us to raise almost 13 million USD which benefited 4 charities and their prevention work: Designers against AIDS, UNFPA, MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation and YouthAIDS.

Visit the H&M website

Marc Jacobs X Playboy T-shirts to benefit DAA

Marc Jacobs created this T-shirt (and two other styles) for Playboy, to 100% benefit Designers against Aids. The limited edition tees were sold in Marc Jacobs stores worldwide and in the Marc Jacobs online store and during Fashion Week in the spring of 2011 in New York, London, Milan and Paris Marc Jacobs made shopwindows for this collection, proclaiming his love for DAA. Marc Jacobs wrote:

“Just wanted to let you know about our latest windows at the Marc by Marc Jacobs store (403 Bleecker Street, NY). In collaboration with Playboy, we are featuring a Playboy themed photo window which goes along with the collector’s book set, Hugh Hefner’s Playboy, 6 Volumes, for sale at Bookmarc (400 Bleecker Street, NY).

Starting Friday, February 11th through the 18th, customers will be able to get their photo taken with Playboy bunnies in the window of our store, and will receive free prints. In addition, we are also supporting Designers Against AIDS, through the sales of new Marc Jacobs + Playboy T-shirts. The 3 T-shirt designs retail for $35 each, with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit the charity.”

International ‘Youth For A Better World’
Education Center

In 2010 DAA launched the International ‘Youth For A Better World’ Education Center. The training center in Antwerp (Belgium) hosts students from all over the world, teaching them how to set up effective and creative HIV prevention campaigns, using DAA’s pop culture based methodology. The students take this knowledge home, they are encouraged and supported to build up equally successful campaigns in their countries of origin – sharing and spreading their knowledge and experience among their peers. Since the education center opened its doors we have hosted over 100 students, over half of whom also lived at the center. We also welcome high school/university students for short duration workshops; among others we have welcomed a class from The Art Institute of Chicago and a group of Tokio Hotel fans who did a global campaign on our behalf.

Read more about the education center here

See more pictures

Check out the application

DAA: The First Decade

“A celebration of pure beauty, idealism and lust for life”

In november 2010 we launched the book ‘DAA: The First Decade’. Ten years ago Designers against AIDS (DAA) was born. Founder of DAA and its mother organization art platform Beauty without Irony, Ninette Murk, was asked to translate her no nonsense message into a book. Beauty, positivity and tolerance are the main focus of ‘Designers against AIDS: The First Decade’.

A collection of more than one hundred amazing pictures: all different visions on pure beauty and a look at the past: 10 years of initiatives and campaigns, highlighting the most beautiful and significant moments and the inspiring story of founder Ninette Murk. In addition Baron Professor Peter Piot, former President of UNAIDS and philosopher/writer Alain de Botton contributed to this book. The cover is by famous Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf.

You can still order this beautiful book online – via DAA or via and find it in bookshops worldwide.


 A yearly capsule collection by Belgian retailer JBC, which each year invites a Belgian fashion designer or celebrity to design a collection for its customers while incorporating the safe sex message either through the clothes themselves and/or through a social media campaign, which is designed with the help of IHAEC students.

Past collections have involved Lio, An Lemmens, Hannelore Knuts, Buscemi, Mauro Pawlowski (DEUS), Pad’r, Stijn Meuris, Tatiana Silva and more.

Visit the JBC website here

Models Against AIDS

In January 2008 DAA established ‘Models Against Aids’ in order to inform girls and boys who dream of becoming a model about HIV/AIDS and safe sex.

Models Against AIDS also raises funds for future AIDS awareness programs: for every booking, each model will donate 1% to DAA. Furthermore, models will take part in future campaigns, give lectures at schools, speak out during interviews and at events and motivate their colleagues to also join MAA.

Spokesperson for Models Against AIDS is Belgian top model Hannelore Knuts – she has done countless runway shows for all the big name fashion designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Moschino, Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier, Hermès, Balenciaga, Fendi, Versace and many others. She has modelled for countless photographers and is also a photographer herself, having curated several exhibitions with the first one being in 2010.

Hannelore is very motivated to help Models against AIDS and Designers against AIDS to spread their prevention message and to stimulate young models to join MAA, with the same goal: have fun, but keep it safe!