Knokke’s Addresses

Well, Belgium might not be the first place you think of in terms of typically ‘summer’ holidays. But, to a surprise of many, it’s possible to lie for hours near the North Sea and get that vitamin D. And guess what – if you’re lucky with the weather, your tan will be as good as in Italy. So, where to spend a lazy, August day? Definitely in Knokke, which is often referred to as Belgium’s top resort spot. But no worries, there are no crowds of tourists and no madness going on down the beach. Just plenty of lovely beach clubs, pattiseries with Belgian chocolates and very, very chic boutiques that are worth visiting after you’ve read your book, swam in the shockingly warm sea and finally charged your batteries.

La Vie En Rose

This is a small store located just a few feet from the ‘main’ street of Knokke. A refined selection of Marni, Chloé and Dries Van Noten, combined with the rather artisanal, niche labels like Sofie D’Hoore and Tak Ori. It’s hard to call La Vie En Rose a ‘multibrand’, because of its… coziness.

Golvenstraat 13

Blue Princess

The two-floor store surprises with labels that you don’t really expect to see in resort towns like Knokke. Maryam Nazzir Zadeh? Checked. Ganni? Checked. Stand? Checked.

Kustlaan 72

Geoffroy Van Hulle

The first thought when you enter this breathing treasure chest? GORGEOUS. Antique statues; tribal masks from Africa; museum taxidermy; vintage coffee-table books. The list of (very, very pricey) paraphernalia available at Van Hulle’s boutiques is endless. You can’t leave this place without a La Mamounia scent, a perfume brand coming straight from Morocco.

Noordstraat 143

IMG_7338

//

A few more addresses from Knokke are added to the newly updated ‘Places‘ page. Click, click!

Antwerp’s Addresses

SONY DSC

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

//

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

 

Brugge’s Addresses

SONY DSC

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

//

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

IMG_6690

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

SONY DSC

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

Slide1Slide1-kopia

Photos by Edward Kanarecki

Antwerp’s Finest Houses

IMG_4708

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.

Leopold de Waelplaats

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…

Nationalestraat 16

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.

Lombardenvest 20

All photos from Antwerp are by Edward Kanarecki.

Antwerp Love

SONY DSC

Mum!

I’ve been actually absent on the blog for over a week, because I took a road trip to Antwerp (that ended up with visiting Knokke, Amsterdam and Berlin, too).  I adore this magnificient Belgian city and I really wouldn’t mind living in it one day. I love the fact that whenever I visit it, it’s always so fresh with new places and ideas. First of all, the fashion factor – my favourites like Dries Van Noten, Raf Simons, Ann Demeulemeester and of course Martin Margiela started out in here – makes it so important to me. But its also all about those romantic streets and magical light that makes Antwerp that appealing to me. For now, here are some of my photos / favourite details from the city.

Posts on fantastic spots will come up soon. However, I’m completely puzzled right now -how to manage with writing about Antwerp, while being in tune with the approaching New York Fashion Week? Busy days ahead.

Quinten Mestdagh

9

I know I wrote that before, but Instagram really is a treasure chest of creatives who deserve the spotlight. A casual morning scroll-down-of-my-feed later and here I’m with Quinten Mestdagh‘s powerful collection, which has been presented during the last fashion show of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. The designer is a third-year graduate of the school, which breeded the famous Antwerp Six, and already makes a unique mark on the Belgian fashion scene. Quinten’s voluminous garments electrify the viewer with their texture, colour and imagery. Speaking of the last, its the designer’s  visible strenght in ‘Dodge This’ collection. “I have always been attracted by highly stylized images in fashion magazines and advertisements. Last summer, I started collecting pictures in the archive of the MoMu library in Antwerp. With those images, I made collages and paper 3D experiments to create tension and roughness, contrasting with the beauty found in fashion photography. I then approached the garments as abstract panels for the images,” Quinten told ASVOF. With faces of fashion models and icons like Nico, Karen Elson or Princess Elizabeth of Toro as prints, the designer emphasizes and embraces extreme femininity in form of modern-day ball gowns and statuesque skirts. Just wow.

Photos via Quinten’s Instagram / by Michaël Smits.

Christian Wijnants

26-christian-wijnants-fall-2016-ready-to-wear

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!

07-christian-wijnants-fall-2016-ready-to-wear

02-christian-wijnants-fall-2016-ready-to-wear

09-christian-wijnants-fall-2016-ready-to-wear

13-christian-wijnants-fall-2016-ready-to-wear

22-christian-wijnants-fall-2016-ready-to-wear

28-christian-wijnants-fall-2016-ready-to-wear

19-christian-wijnants-fall-2016-ready-to-wear

Slide1-kopia 3