Antwerp’s Addresses

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Firstly, I adore Antwerp for its fashion heritage, which consists of Martin Margiela, Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester and many other creators whose style and idiosyncratic aesthetics continue to contribute to contemporary fashion. That aura is incredible, and it’s perceivable that the locals celebrate their home designers. But my great love for this Belgian city is as well based on the local stores and boutiques, which always surprise me with their selection of brands and items they sell. These shop-keepers are truly passionate about their work! Been to Antwerp exactly last year, and I was more than happy to re-visit all my favourite addresses this time and see how they progress. And found some new ones as well. I must admit that it would be great to discover more of the city’s ‘cultural’ part. Sadly, the two major museums of Antwerp – The Royal Museum of Fine Arts and MoMu – are temporarily closed for renovation. Who knows, maybe next year?

But for now, scroll down to explore my beloved spots in this forever intriguing city.

Ann Demeulemeester

Entering Ann Demeulemeester‘s spacious store is like approaching the church alter. The Belgian fashion designer’s dark romance oozes from the lace vests, velvet shirts and Victorian frocks with absorbing power, while the multi-storey boutique has a sacred charm about it. The white-wall backdrop makes you look at the details of the clothes with great scrutiny, quite breathless. Ann’s fashion used to be pure poetry with a Flemish twist, and fortunately, Sebastian Meunièr, the current creative director, successfully conveys the Demeulemeester codes in his women’s and men’s collections. And with the help of the Antwerp flagship store – which also holds the studio and atelier – Ann Demeulmeester appears to be one of the finest of Belgian fashion.

Leopold de Waelplaats

Coffee & Vinyl

Love coffee as much as good music? There’s no better place in Antwerp, then. Browse the vast collection of vinyls, from rare Serge Gainsbourg records to Portishead’s albums, while taking a sip of the delightful espresso. For those who love vinyls, but are too audio, there’s an equally impressive selection of CDs.

Volkstraat 45

Atelier D’Anvers

Just a stone throw from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Atelier D’Anvers is a cozy space with a relatively affordable, very well-curated brands. Bags by Jerome Dreyfuss and Sicilian scents by Ortigia are a chic addition to the silk floral dresses, shearling coats and corduroy trousers you will definitely find here.

Volkstraat 54

Enes

A multibrand concept store with a wide range of labels: Joseph, Baum Und Pferdgarten, Vince, Frame, Morobé, J Brand, MSGM… If you’re not really into the clothes Enes sells, the interior will surely surprise. The first floor, filled with plants, little sofas and cushions, has a beautiful outdoor patio, while the second floor has those dramatic hand-carved, wooden walls.

Volkstraat 58

Charlie’s

A quite new breakfast, brunch and coffee spot that feels like a spacious apartment located in a townhouse. Everyday there’s a new specialty menu. That day they served a toast with avocado and crab, which was a literal taste heaven. Classics, like matcha and salad bowls, are always here.

Volkstraat 66

Dries Van Noten

The mecca. The building, in which you see the Van Noten boutique, is fully owned by the designer and is gracefully called Het Modepalais (‘fashion palace’). The name might sound quite over-the-top, but the store is far from that term. It’s like Dries’ fashion – refined, but with an edge. The store feels like an apartment that is temporarily ‘furnished’ with the designer’s gorgeous clothes and accessories from the autumn-winter 2018 collection. Fresh flower bouquets make this place even more like at home.

Nationalestraat 16

A.F. Vandevorst

A.F. Vandevorst‘s store is small, but dynamic. The brand is known for their off-kilter, punky attitude. You better get your hands on those signature, pointy-toe boots – they sell out quickly. I noticed that the boutique sells less clothes than it did last year – quite possibly this Belgian label decided to focus more on leather goods, while keep the ready-to-wear on a bespoke, couture level.

Lombardenvest 20

Graanmarkt 13

I know and admire Graanmarkt 13 for years. At the end of a small old square, there it is: a large space called just like its address. Designed by Vincent Van Buysen, filled with natural light and eclectic furniture, we’ve got the most charming place in the whole Antwerp. The store lately had a transition moment, when they switched from big brands like Marni and Isabel Marant into timeless and more niche ones: Lemaire, Kassl, Salle Privee, Simon Miller or Sofie D’hoor to name a few. The aim was to stop being a victim of fashion industry’s pace of endless trends and collections, and to stay true to personal style and love for quality.  While the store itself is already a fantastic place in its concept, Graanmarkt 13 also has an already renowned restaurant serving organic food (downstairs), a footwear and perfume spot (first floor) and a far-fetched apartment for rent (top floor).

Graanmarkt 13

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All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

 

Brugge’s Addresses

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Planning your trip to Brugge? You might want to take a look at the five addresses I found here during my last stay (and completely fell in love with!). From rare jewellery vintage to delightful home decor boutiques, Brugge isn’t just canals and heavy history as many people blindly think.

Greet Verbeke Antiques

I really wouldn’t mind staying here forever. Greet Verbeke is one of the major antique dealers in Brugge. Her passion for antiques and contemporary art doesn’t go unnoticed. Greet travels all over Europe searching for collector’s items – each piece is chosen by herself. From silver tableware and museum taxidermy to perfume flacons (Nina Ricci, Coco Chanel) and vintage jewellery, this place is like a treasure chest. The jewellery selection is especially impressive: a Christian Dior brooch, Christian Lacroix iconic hearts, Yves Saint Laurent pendants, 80s Céline gold earrings, Italian hoops from the 50s… just wow.

Sint-Jakobsstraat 53

Cafuné Espressobar

Although Brugge appeared to be a culinary dissapointment this time, it at least surprised with good coffee at Cafuné. Drop for a classical espresso macchiato and taste their homemade pastry.

Academiestraat 8

L’Héroïne 

This is the place where Belgian fashion lovers should definitely go to. It’s like Antwerp, but in a nutshell. Dries Van Noten, A.F. Vandevorst, Christian Wijnants and Sofie D’Hoore are all here. But there as well some Parisian bits, like Lemaire. Note the minimal interior with a lovely, ivy backyard.

Noordzandstraat 32

Serendipity

Looking for a hand-woven rag from Africa or an ethically-made basket? Serendipity is the place for you, then. It’s this kind of slow buying place, where you’ve got to first experience the tactility and craftsmanship of every single piece before you go to the cashier. There’s also the beauty corner devoted to Laboratorio Olfattivo. Got Patchouliful scent on my mind…

Sint-Jakobsstraat 56

Frederiek Van Pamel

Another place in Brugge which I wouldn’t mind considering as a place to live. Frederiek Van Pamel’s store feels like a real space, with one exception – everything you see is available to buy. Whether it’s a garden bench, a rare Richard Avedon catalogue, a ceramic flower or an Ortigia Sicily perfume, Van Pamel sells items he curates and loves. There’s also a little flower shop at the entrace!

Ezelstraat 33

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That’s it for Brugge. You will also find more addresses in the newly updated ‘Places‘ page. Antwerp and Knokke guides are coming up very soon!

Triennale Brugge

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I went to Brugge (you might also know it as Bruges), the capital of West Flanders in  Belgium, last week. The city is world-known for its canals, cobbled streets, townhouses and medieval buildings – shortly speaking, majority of this magical city is under protection of UNESCO. Well, no wonder why. But this time, this city felt even more enchanting than usual.

Now I’m honest. I had no idea that the Triennale Brugge 2018 is on – this was meant to be a few day trip to the town I’ve been visiting for years. But the occurring event transformed this city into a breathing artwork. The Brugge Trienniale invited international artists and architects to think about this question: how flexible, liquid and resilient can a historic city like Bruges be in an age when nothing seems to be certain any longer? Many of them sought inspiration for their work in the role of liquidity in the city that is literally criss-crossed and surrounded by water. The waterways that once earned Brugge its international renown, become a metaphor for Liquid City. Fifteen works of art, installations and meeting places have been put up in the city centre. You can walk into them and experience them. And while seeking them, discover the less touristic, off-beat tracks of Brugge. My favourites? The inflated installation by Spanish studio Selgascano, which is a literal ‘meeting place’ on water, and Jarosław Kozakiewicz‘s ‘Brug’ bridge. The ‘Skyscraper’ by StudioKCA, which is a massive whale sculpture made of 5 tons of plastic pulled out of the ocean, makes you think as well.

Triennale Brugge 2018 lasts until September 16.

Fish & Eat in Antwerp

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Antwerp’s Fish & Eat is not one of those ‘fashionable’ restaurants, that’s for sure. But underrated places are often much, much better than the ones that are currently ‘it’. I will never forget the smoked mussels served in a can, the restaurant’s signature dish. Those tiny prawns on ice were a great appetizer, while the classical sole with home-made fries  was more than delightful. Once you get here (after some heavy, Belgian fashion shopping…), don’t miss a chance to order the very well-supplied plateau de mer!

Volkstraat 65 / Antwerp

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Photos by Edward Kanarecki

A Thing for Concept Stores

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According to the web, the sophisticated term ‘concept store’ is a place where new ideas are put together in a bid to enhance the shopper experience and sell a wider selection of goods to the client. What’s more, many concept stores offer ‘experimental’ elements such as a café or exhibition space, building a connection with shoppers seeking a particular lifestyle. Although that sounds quite exhaustive, concept stores are my favourite type of places, as you can truly explore and try out different smaller brands, rather than one established label – and all that under one roof. Here are the four concept store I’ve recently visited while staying in Antwerp and Berlin.

Damoy is Florence Cools’ world. Here, she curates and sells brand-treasures coming from Belgium, France, Sweden and Denmark that have a kind of modern-romantic knack. Among the racks at her second, newly opened boutique in Antwerp, you will find a local favourite knitwear brand, I Love Mr. Mittens, but also such Scandi-chic pearls as Cecilie Copenhagen. The interior – lovely, warm minimalism – is more than remarkable.

Steenhouwersvest 46 / Antwerp

I know and admire Graanmarkt 13 for years. At the end of a small old square, there it is: a large, cozy space called just like its address. Designed by Vincent Van Buysen, filled with natural light and eclectic furniture, we’ve got the most charming place in the whole Antwerp. The store lately had a transition moment, when they switched from such renowned brands like Marni and Isabel Marant into timeless and more niche ones like Lemaire or Sofie D’hoor. The aim was to stop being a victim of fashion industry’s pace of endless trends and collections, and to stay true to personal style and love for quality.  While the store itself is already a fantastic place in its concept, Graanmarkt 13 is also a beautiful restaurant serving organic food (downstairs) and a far-fetched apartment for rent (top floor).

Graanmarkt 13 / Antwerp

In the heart of Kreuzberg district, Voo Store defines the word “cool“. The concept store – hidden in a former locksmith shop patio – is an industrial space selling brands like Raf Simons, J.W. Anderson, Acne Studios, but also a selection of Prada’s menswear collection.  You can relax and read niche magazines, while taking a sip of delightful coffee from their Companion Coffee place located in the other part of the store.

Oranienstraße 24 / Berlin

The Corner is Berlin’s classic. Combined with installations coming from local artists and a book / beauty section, The Corner has every brands you will love this and the next season: Raf Simon’s Calvin Klein, Jacquemus, Balenciaga, Vetements and many, many more. But also, such ultimate favourites like Céline or Dries Van Noten. Just around the corner (no pun intended…) there’s their menswear shop, while near Kurfürstendamm you’ve got one more location, but smaller, with a more off-duty selection.

Französische Straße 40 / Berlin

Photos by Edward Kanarecki.