Thursday, my friend and I traveled from her small town in Belgium into Antwerp. Antwerp has a cathedral. Antwerp also observes Ascension Day by closing all its stores. Hmm. I saw the cathedral. Beautiful. Hung with an exhibition of Pieter Paul Rubens* paintings. More beautiful. I also saw the outside of the Dries Van Noten store, at Nationalestraat 16. Also beautiful.
Like Antwerp weather. Neutral. Functional. A certain austere beauty. Well, Mr. Van Noten has evolved. Jakarta meets Palm Springs. I bet Jonathan Adler loves Mr. Van Noten.
That’s what I saw in the window. It wasn’t an anomaly. This is what Dries showed for spring.
And the fall.
Where have I been? His stuff is wildly beautiful. (And brutally expensive, but, yeah, well, the window-shopping is free.) The kind of classic to which I am doomed by my genetic heritage, made up in colors and fabrics that make you want to sleep with them. For those of us with Sturdy Gal leanings, Dries Van Noten is Artsy Cousin in a box. Risk-free. Constructed from a luxe set of materials that the Grande Dame would not shun. Not at all.
Despite the Ascension Day store closings, Dries piqued my curiosity about Belgian designers. So let’s pretend I saw some other stuff. Let’s take some photos from the ever useful Style.Com, and intersperse a few snapshots of the Belgian things I did instead of going into stores. And if those things seem to mostly include food, well, I have nothing to say about that.
Apparently other Antwerp designers we might visit include Walter Van Beirendonck. Off we go to. But on the way to Walter’s store we see this.
Walter also offers a fairly unique take on pink and green wear for men. For those unable to reconcile their Lily heritage with hipster yearnings.
Now imagine these. Courtesy the lobby of the Antwerp Hilton. Centrally located and quite convenient. Not closed on Ascension Day.
We would love to visit Oliver Theyskens, but he has moved on to design for Nina Ricci, or Veronique Branquinho, but she has shut down her line. While it’s been announced that Veronique has begun to design shoes for Camper, and bags for the classic Brussels leather goods concern, Delvaux, we’re going to guess there’s no store with beautiful windows in Antwerp. At least not yet. So in our imaginations, we try one last place. Ann Demeulemeester., on Leopold de Waelplaats.
I do not believe that at this point in my life I will be wearing a leather brassiere much. Even if I liked the look, the discomfort is too severe for Sturdy Gals of any age.
Imaginatively shopped out, dreaming of Dries, amused by Walter, and uninterested in Ann, we eat dinner. At De Peerdestal. Ceiling of dark wood beams, tables covered with white cloths, walls roughly plastered. Exactly what an American might predict for Belgium. No mussels, instead we eat langoustines and taglietelle and lick our fingers as Americans will. Take a more delicate approach to the white asparagus in vinaigrette. Drink red wine. Push away from the table.
*That’s what the Belgians call him. When in Antwerp, etc.
Images (because photo credits are not imaginary)
Antwerp Centraal – me
Dries Van Noten store – me
Dries Van Noten coat – Style.com
Dries Van Noten pants – me
Dries Van Noten skirt – Style.com
Dries Van Noten pants and jacket from runway – Style.com, and here
McGregor store window – me
Walter’s tshirt – Walter’s online shop
Fries – me
Ann Demeulemeester – Ann D.’s site
Ann Demeulemeester – Style.com
Dinner – me