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Together with seven other bloggers from Paris, London and Amsterdam, I spent a lovely weekend in Antwerp. Most activities included good shops with a personal touch (no high-street), the best food, and long walks through the city. A fantastic and delicious fashion weekend.
The hotel was literally straight in front of the Central Station and the rooms were just fantastic: spacious, warm colors, some delicious treats at arrival, neat and rather luxurious bathrooms including everything you - could - need, and if you're staying on one of the top floors you will also have a fantastic view on the city (even though I actually didn't have any time, I have been hanging outside of the window for half an hour to photograph all the lights by night).
I will also have to mention the breakfast! It includes anything you'd desire, from a range of cheeses, to several sorts of fresh fruit, to just everything. If you'd wish to try it all, you should probably stay there for at least a week. Oh, and free Wifi internet! In short: a great stay.
After a hunt for orange colored Delvaux accessories on Saturday, we all made a trip to the exhibition of the brand on Sunday, in the MOMU, called 'Delvaux - 180 years of Belgium luxury'. The exhibition perfectly shows how the designer brand has developed through the years, though also the work it takes to create that one bag, which is still being done by hand. You can definitely see they stick to what they have made about fifty years ago, and at the same time the bags are still adapting to today's wants and needs. Yet now, with Veronique Branquinho as it's artistic director. The number of bags is still relatively small, but then again, that's also what makes the brand even more exclusive.
To be honest with you, I'm not that much of a waffle fan. They're usually just too heavy, too sweet or just too large (or all three of those), but when I tasted this one from Desire de Lille, I was sold.
Instead of the factors mentioned above, it was crispy, light-weight and consisted of the perfect amount of sugar, all together with rather simple but yet again also special icecream, and of course some whipped cream (with again nuts on top). The place itself was visit-worthy as well; it had a personal and cosy feeling, you could feel a certain vibe of being united with all the good-waffle-lovers.
When Desire Smidts was still teaching at the pastry Lacquemant in Lille, he created this new treat, by putting some dough in a waffle iron, of which only he knew the recipe. Since then it's been a huge succes, and still a culinary concept, especially in Belgium. Marc Stoffels, his grandson, continues the tradition with enthusiasm at several fairs, tearooms and other sales points in the 'country of waffles' and abroad. You can find this exact spot at Schrijnwerkersstraat 16, in Antwerp.
This is the place where I had the best cocktail ever, called ‘Lazy Red Cheeks’: fresh raspberry, vodka, limon, crushed ice. If you like cocktails, it's a must. The bar is really small, so you might have to wait for a spot, but then you will also be sure of a nice treat. Don't forget to check out the enormous glass door! (And if you'd like to get a snack afterwards, it's close to Frituur Erik, which you can find in this list as well.)
Elsa itself is a rather new label of shoes, bags and belts, the first collection got created in 2007. The label is a collaboration between Els Proost, Belgian ex-shoe and accessories designer for Dries Van Noten, Emporio Armani, Maison Martin Margiela - and Angelo Penazzato, Italian ex-shoe producer for several famous labels such as Costume National, Hussein Chalayan, Angelo Figus and many more.
The designs are somewhat simple, but made with craftmanship in order to create comfort, which results in a unique and elegant type of shoe. You can find Elsa at Nationalestraat 147, in Antwerp. The labels which are currently being sold in the shop are the following: Elsa, Fiorentini & Baker, Hussein Chalayan, Angelo Figus, Roberto Del Carlo, United Nude, Nathalie Verlinden, Ellen Verbeek, Chie Mihara, Vialis, Neosens.
Lux, the place where we had a brunch after the long tour through Antwerp by Tanguy. This beautiful place, designed by the owner in collaboration with Jeroen Verreydt, does not only offer an exquisite French/Belgian/Italian menu, but also a long bar for cocktails and a basement lounge for partying. Lux opened in 2003, in a former Polish shipping company's headquarters.
All I can say: the food was delicious! The place definitely teams up with the chosen name. Located on Adriaan Brouwerstraat 13.
This place was just incredible. If I had the money, I could actually collect my entire interior and wardrobe here at once. It's completely stuffed with inspiration!
Fantastic quality vintage and second-hand clothes, including retro items by the Antwerp Six or even a dress by Keith Haring. The best vintage furniture from important designers, fantastic accessories from Moschino to Chanel, and all displayed in a great design of a store. I will also have to mention everything is available for short-time rent, which is 10% of the value of the item, for one day. So if you're looking for a dress for a special event, which you will be only wearing once anyway, I guess it's affordable to look for a unique piece here.
I think Furniture and Clothing Selection is worth to be called my favorite shop in Antwerp. You can find FCS at Timmerwerfstraat 8, in Zuid.
Since 1884, this little shop has been selling handmade leather gloves in numerous shades and colors, and currently stocks over 11,000 pairs. What I loved about this shop is the fact you can still see all the history and effort that has been put into it, you don't feel scared to ask a question, it spreads a warm feeling. If I remember, the blue-ish grey boxes are about eighty years old, and just perfectly fit the custom drawers.The gloves itself are made of high-quality materials, somewhat even surreal, and you don't really feel like taking them off. Lombardenvest 2-4.
In Fine - Maison de Parfum. Not too notable from the outside, but on the inside you can find lots of bright colored perfumes. You could even gift someone an empty bottle as some kind of gift card, and make them discover their personal perfume in the store, which I think is a great idea. Don't you think it's hard when someone gifts you a perfume and you don't actually like it? In Fine is located on Grote Markt 19.
This shop, a unique showcase of designers which opened in 1998, by Walter van Beirendonck is an important place for pioneering fashion in Antwerp, and located in a former car park. I think the space and somehow smooth textures of the walls and floor are a great way to highlight the pieces on the large bright yellow metal structures. Definitely interesting to see, even if you’re not really interested in the clothes itself. Especially the fantastic desk hanging from the cealing, like it was floating on air.
Labels which are being sold include Walter Van Beirendonck, Bruno Pieters, Jan & Carlos, Comme des Garçons Play, Bless, plus you can also find some great vintage furniture.
Louis, a minimalist temple of couture, was one of the first shops to sell the designs of the Antwerp Six in the late 80's and also a stockist of Martin Margiela and Raf Simmons. Furthermore you can find some Balenciaga pieces, Lanvin, Rick Owens, and more. And of course, if that doesn't fit your budget (like me, for example) it can still be an enjoyable visit. You can find Louis at Lombardenstraat 2.
Actually, this is just a cafeteria, but if you're in the area, and would like to get some Belgium fries, this is a nice stop! It's small but cute, pink in a good and not girly way, and all sorts of sauces you'd possibly have never tasted before can be tried. You can find it at the Waalse Kaai (so maybe after a visit to the photo museum, which is pretty much next to it).
This urban shop - not a cafeteria - has three floors of edgy skate and streetwear (superdry, Religion, April77), independent labels, and vintage fashion from the '50s through the '90s (mostly retro punk rock). You can get to the basement shoe department by sliding down a tunnel chute (or the elevator, if that doesn't appeal), and there's a DJ on Saturdays and school holidays. Needless to say, it's a favorite among teens and young hipsters. You can find Fish and Chips at Kammenstraat 36-38.
Copyright is a rather small bookstore located at Nationalestraat 28a, though one with a wide range of interesting books from fashion to architecture, located at the Modenatie, next to the MOMU Fashion Museum. Personally, I was mostly intrigued by the design of the store by Vincent van Duysen, and thought the mechanics of the door were just brilliant. The dark wood-panelled bookcases make an incomparable contrast to the large windows and white walls. In short: it's not only a bookstore worth to visit because of the selection of books, but also one for the architecture and design.
Labels Inc. supplies second-hand designer clothing from just a few seasons back. The shop sells mostly Belgium labels (the Antwerp Six) like Dries van Noten and relative newcomers such as Tim Van Steenbergen. Every month they display clothes by emerging fashion designers in the shop window. Most price tags are somewhere between 50 and 150 euro's, so it's definitely worth a visit. Aalmoezenierstraat 4.
Cafe Berlin is a trendy bar where you can sit down for a nice cocktail or lunch when you feel like gaining some energy during your day of shopping, or just want to relax for a little while. You can find Berlin on the corner of the Kleine Markt and Kammenstraat.
At Sussies Stocksale at Nationalestraat 127, you can purchase vintage clothing by the kilo, just like at your grocery store on the corner. The clothes are definitely affordable, most items are 10 euro's by the kilo, so you easily end up with a cute little shirt for only two to three euro's. Bags and pumps are 5 euro's, boots for 20 euro's, and nice and warm coats for the winter can also be already found for just 20 euro's. Unfortunately the shop was only opened on Saturdays from 11:00 to 17:00, and we didn't have any time that particular moment...
The restaurant is cosy and recommendable to everyone who likes crafts, cosyness, wine and obviously the Mediterranean cuisine (think of Parma, salmon, aubergine, and a range of cheeses used for many dishes). Patine also offers live performances from time to time.
In a little and lovely building in Antwerp's most popular street for antiques, you can find this special vintage shop which opened not too long ago. What you cannot find in this vintage store are frayed skirts and shirts for a couple of euro's which don't smell that nice anymore, but instead there's a range of quality vintage pieces of well known designers. Items come for example from Paris, London and Ibiza, and pieces from upcoming designers are also being sold here. Kloosterstraat 177.
Hospital is a new concept store which offers several modern luxury labels for men and women, such as clothing from Viktor & Rolf, Sonia Rykiel, Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen, but also accessories from labels like AF Vandevorst and watches from Anonimo.
The complex, located in former horse stables, opened it's doors in December 2008. Owner Jeroen Smeekens and architect Will Erens, have transformed a scrap metal dealer's warehouse into this unique boutique, with an adjoining bar and restaurant called Glorious. In the store you can also find a beautiful restored vintage car, which is for sale as well and will be changed for another one every month. You can find Hospital at the Burburestraat.
The Zuiderterras was where the Fashion Hunt came to an end. We all had to be here there at 14:00, after which we counted the found products, and got ready for a fantastic meal. Okay, so I probably also was a bit hungry, but I honestly more than loved my cod-filet (with mozzarella and tomato on top, on a pasta with red pesto and herb-vinaigrette - yum). Definitely worth to make a visit to, during the afternoon or for dinner. As far as I can remember everyone loved it.
A place where I hadn't been for a long time and one of the best vintage stores in Antwerp. The items may be priced a little bit more than the usual, though still affordable, but what you will get in return is quality in a neat but cosy invironment that doesn't smell like old worn-out stuff. Jutka & Riska is a place where you could easily spend an hour browsing through the vintage dresses, little suitcases, lovely jewelry and jackets. Located on Nationalestraat 87.
An interesting part of our program was a little tour through the shop and rooms of inspiration of Anna Heylen, guided by herself. Anna is a fashion graduate from the Royal Academy of the Fine Arts and got noticed in 1993 with her collection of couture-garbed dolls. She introduced her first women's collection in 1996 and in spite of her worldwide presence, she still works the counter one day a week in her shop in Antwerp, selling formal and informal pieces. Lombardenvest 44.
Bar Italia, the place where we had a delicious dinner before going out with Tanguy. All I can say is the service was good, everything was served on time (which I didn't expect as it was definitely crowded), the design was unique, and the food was great. I ate the cannelloni which was perfect (not too much, not too minimal, and you could taste it was 100% fresh).
Think Twice is a little vintage shop near the Meir, which is mostly focused on streetwise clothing (in contrast to their first shop which is mainly focused on vintage and fur) from mainly Scandinavian labels. There is a wide range of products, from synthetic cardigans from the eighties to floral dresses from the seventies, actually about everything to create an entire new outfit, for an afforable price.
Located in the heart of Antwerp (Lange Gasthuisstraat 9-11), Verso is a large luxurious clothing store for the financially succeeded ones, offering pieces from the most known high fashion labels such as Dolce & Gabbana, Givenchy, Prada, Cavalli, Armani, Versace, to name a few. The building itself is interesting to watch as well, since it has been created out of two aristocratic palaces from the sixteenth century, and it's been a bank since 1927, before it was turned into this designer store. On their website you can also find an online store, might be appealing to check out the outlet.
Also a stop during the hunt was Lombardia, probably the most colorful place you've ever seen or had a drink. Even though I wouldn't decorate my room like this, I thought it was genius. All the vibrant shades, all the posters, the grass on the walls, the sun screens, the fair-lights, the garden chairs, and I could continue for while...
We photographed and tried the 'famous' ginger tea, which definitely gave us a boost. Be sure to make a stop next time you're visiting Antwerp! The owner is the friendliest as well...
Wattman is one of those cute places where you can make a stop when you feel like having a warm drink, or are hungry for breakfast. The antique and second-hand furniture, alltogether with the bright colors on the walls gives a cosy and warm feeling and makes you interested to find even more details in this little Cafe/Restaurant at the Tramplein.
Belgium wouldn't be Belgium without their fries, and this is the best frites emporium in Antwerp (which also every single person of the city knows). In the evenings, a traditional, middle-aged Flemish woman runs the shop and enjoys insulting the customers (in a charming way, of course). Hoogstraat 1.
Theo is a Belgian label for eyewear, selling glasses with a not too ordinary frame in lots of different colors. So if you are looking for a rather unique pair, this is a go.
One of my favorite places to go for delicious fresh juices and bagels. A cosy interior, friendly staff and good food. A nice stop at any time of the day. Recommended: the chicken and avocado bagel, espresso and all juices.
The building - dominated by the Antwerp six - is all about fashion, and houses the Fashion Museum, The Flanders Fashion Institute, the fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, a design library, a bookshop, a large Yohji Yamamoto flagship store, and more.
Of course a must for all the fashion and style interested. Nationalestraat 28.
Ringz & Thingz is an accessory and jewelry shop that offers lots and lots of little colorful objects to spice up your outfit, at really low prices. Most pieces have some kind of rockabilly vibe and are made of acrylic materials. If you like color that comes cheap, this is a must to visit. Kammenstraat 64-66.
Filippa K will probably be my favorite store for quality basics of nice materials, and as there are two in Antwerp as well, I will have to highlight the store. Located at Steenhouwersvest 61, this is the shop that sells female clothes, the first store now sells only male clothing. At the ground floor you can find the 'normal' collection, and you can also find the home collection 'Ease' on the first floor.