A day in Antwerp • Belgian Fashion
I love Belgium and I love fashion, so I guess it's only natural I developed a passion for Belgian Fashion. And there is no better city to experience it than our own fashion capital, Antwerp. For mere mortals like you and me, high end fashion is often out of reach, but keep in mind: not shopping at Zara for a few months and saving up that money for a unique, Belgian item is totally worth it!
Lunch at Bourla | Graanmarkt 7, Antwerp
As the theme of the day is Belgian Fashion, and most of our Belgian designers show their collections during Paris Fashion Week, Bourla is the perfect place to have lunch. This Café Restaurant housed in a majestic building offers Belgian-French classic cuisine and is very popular among people from Antwerp. Although the interior is really beautiful, people love the terrace for its view on the Graanmarkt square.
Shopping at Essentiel | Schuttershofstraat, Antwerp
Essentiel was born in 1999 in Antwerp and is an accessible, commercial fashion brand. Their designs are fresh and offbeat. Every season there are items embellished with sequins and other sparkles. Their clothes are there to add a little fun to your life while still looking stylish. And they have collections for both women and men to my great delight!
Shopping at Delvaux | Komedieplaats 17, Antwerp
Delvaux is the undisputed Belgian luxury house. Established in 1829, it is the oldest fine leather goods house in the world! Delvaux is renowned for its exquisite savoir-faire and exceptional quality and has long been coveted by royalties. It is also a quintessential Belgian brand and it continues to cultivate its origin through collections inspired by René Magritte for example (which I simply adore). The house has classic handbags that have been there for decades - such as the Brillant and the Tempête - but its also keeps innovating while staying faithful to its heritage. Its latest design called the Mutin is a perfect example of that as it inherited its clasp from a Delvaux bag from the 60's. Every season brings new colors and materials, making the brand ever desirable.
Shopping at Dries Van Noten | Nationalestraat 16, Antwerp
On the Nationalestraat stands Het Modepaleis, a sumptuous, neoclassical corner building that houses Dries Van Noten's flagship store. He's part of a legendary group of graduates from the Antwerp Fashion Academy that presented their collections together at the British Designer Show in London in 1986 and put Antwerp on the fashion world map. Their names were Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Bikkembergs, Dirk Van Saene and Marina Yee. Impossible to pronounce for the international press and buyers of course, so they were conveniently called the Antwerp Six. Dries Van Noten is my all time favorite fashion designer. I think his collections, a flamboyant mix of colors and prints, are brilliant. Butterflies, gold, Bowie, camouflage, flowers... These are just a few of the inspirations of this eternal dreamer I so much admire.
Shopping at Christian Wijnants | Steenhouwersvest 36, Antwerp
There's more to Belgian Fashion than the Antwerp Six. Later generations of fashion academy graduates include the renowned Raf Simons, A.F. Vandevorst, Veronique Branquinho, Haider Ackermann, ... and Christian Wijnants! After launching his brand in 2003, he quickly became famous for his knitwear, also called tricot. In 2015, the humble Antwerp-based fashion designer opened his first flagship store: an oasis of subtle colors and innovate prints.
Visit of the ModeMuseum | Nationalestraat 28, Antwerp
At the heart of Antwerp's fashion district is the Modenatie, a 19th century building that houses three major institutions: The fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, under the guidance of Walter Van Beirendonck. The Flanders Fashion Institute, responsible for the promotion of Belgian fashion (it seems like it was only yesterday that I was an intern there). And the MoMu Fashion Museum where themed exhibitions are held twice year. Belgian designers are given a prominent place in these exhibitions that are widely acclaimed for their scenography and unique perspectives.
Shopping at Renaissance | Nationalestraat 32, Antwerp
Also housed in the Modenatie is Renaissance, a multibrand store with plenty of clothing by Belgian designers for both men and women. One of those is Haider Ackermann, another favorite of mine. I just love his beautifully draped silhouettes and his rich color palette. And many women seem to share this love, for example the intriguing actress Tilda Swinton who's been wearing his designs for years.
Coffee and more at Kaffeenini | Nationalestraat 114A, Antwerp
At Kaffeenini locals go for breakfast or bagels, but I guess they're most famous for their myriad of coffee specialties. Espressos, cappuccinos and lattes take the most "Instragram-able" form here. And if you don't drink coffee, do like me, go for their hot chocolates with plenty of whipped cream and other sweets!
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