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.

Antwerp Love

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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

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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

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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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Theory of Chaos

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A.F. Vandevorst is a Belgian brand that always impresses me. But this time because of two reasons. The first thing is their SS15 window display in their Antwerp flag-ship store, which is all about their fashion show parachute dress which is a true work of art. I am simply amazed with it’s mind-blowing effect. Then, the second thing: their elusive, slightly eerie winter collection look-book. The clothes inspired with Peru (note all these pompons and shearling), beautifully combined with A.F.’s signature rock’n’roll edge look more than cool. Decadent, sculptural and niche. That’s how I would describe the spark hidden in this collection, and the brand’s really great ideas.

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