Optimistic. Dries Van Noten SS18

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Dries Van Noten is the designer that had a lot of reasons to celebrate lately: from his very successful 100th collection to ‘Dries’, a documentary that in-depth looks at his work, In other words, the world’s eyes were completely on him. But for spring-summer 2018, Van Noten visibly decided to take a break and lean on his well-known classics. Starting with nude shades and ending on lilac, the collection was about an interesting colour gradation; typically Dries prints in floral motif were used for voluminous shirts, skirts and coats. One of the biggest surprises was the ‘flou’ sensed in the season’s flowing eveningwear. Romantic and easy. Not forgetting to mention the irresistibly good black suit topped with an embellished mesh. Back to basics, for a while, is a very worthwhile thing to do. And going optymistic, as well. “We always say that fashion is a reflection of our times,” said the Belgian designer after his sprin-summer 2018 show. “Well, maybe that’s enough of that! Let’s do something optimistic, enjoy things—and really go for it!

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Antwerp’s Finest Houses

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At Dries Van Noten.

Entering Ann Demeulemeester‘s spacious store is like approaching the church alter. The Belgian fashion designer’s dark romance oozes from the lace vests, fragile headpieces 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, 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 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.

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Other than Ann Demeulemeester, there’s also Dries Van Noten and A.F. Vandevorst, who make contemporary Belgian fashion so crucial. 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 with an edge. It feels like an apartment that is currently ‘furnished’ with the designer’s mesmerising clothes and accessories from his 100th collection. Fresh bouquets of hydrangeas bring even more chic to this (literally) fashionable townhouse. What’s interesting, Dries Van Noten really is a local treasure of Antwerp. That’s evident from the moment you start observing the clients – the crowd of mature, aware-of-themselves women trying on floral dresses and passionately advising on their purchases with their patient (and equally stylish) husbands is surprising. Observing this scene is beautiful and heartwarming in its own way. Meanwhile, trying on faux-furs and preciously embellished sweaters at the menswear floor is double the pleasure…

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A.F. Vandevorst‘s store is small, but dynamic. The brand is known for off-kilter, punky attitude – better get your hands on those chunky knits and signature, pointy-toe boots. They sell out quickly. The braver once might want to indulge themselves in kinky, PVC coats and patchwork dresses coming from the brand’s latest venture into haute couture world.

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All photos from Antwerp are by Edward Kanarecki.

Christian Wijnants

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Usually, when I discover a designer which I haven’t known earlier, I’m living a one-day obsession with him or her. But with Christian Wijnants, I have a mania which will surely last for longer. With a soft point for Belgian fashion, no wonder why I’ve fallen in love with Wijnants’ unique, lady-like vision. Christian graduated from prestige Royal Academy of Fine Arts (‘Antwerp Six’ rings a bell?), and found his eponymous label back in 2003. As most of Belgian designers, he presents his collections to editors and buyers in Paris, and just a year ago, he opened his first flagship store in Antwerp – the city where his studio is based in. For autumn / winter 2016, Wijnants’ look-book oozes with urban femininity, peculiar colour combinations and bold patterns. A contemporary, style-conscious woman will go for one of those coats, questioning which colour is better – tangerine orange or pastel turquoise. Both look ground-breaking, so the choice isn’t easy. Knitted, olive-green turtlenecks are styled with striped baby-pink skirts, while the fluffy, fur cushion-clutches are this season’s candies out of all other accesories. The puffa jacket (of course in stripes!) is a burning desire, too. Is it a wardrobe of a modern-day dame? She’s an eccentric character, who loves to wear a pair of synthetic-white gloves to brunch!

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