There is a smell wafting through the open office window at the moment that smells just like a waffle stand in Brussels. Amazing.
Did I mention before that I lived in Brussels for three months a few years ago when I was doing an internship at the European Parliament?
I learned to love Brussels in that time. I’m not sure it is a city that you immediately fall for, like Paris or Rome but it certainly grows on you. Indeed it is a city of contrasts. On the one hand, it is famous for beer and the city’s “mascot” is a little boy peeing and on the other, it is home to the European Parliament and European Commission offices. It is also home to French Belgians and those from Flanders which makes it a clash of cultures. Of course, it also houses an international population, from the African quarter to those in Brussels who work in one of the international institutions. The clashes and contrasts make for an exciting and interesting place to live and as I got to know the city better, so I learned to like it and finally, love it.
Belgium is not a very big country and, as I have found whenever I have travelled in continental Europe, rail travel is relatively cheap. So during my three months I endeavoured to see a little more of the country. One Sunday afternoon I found myself in Antwerp. Again, like most places in continental Europe, much of the city was closed for Sunday but it was a cool place to wander around. Since visiting I have read up more about it and really want to go back. Antwerp is the breading ground of a many a fashion designer, most famously the “Antwerp Six”, Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries van Noten, Dirk van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee. These six – with a seventh in tow (Martin Margiela) – graduated from the Belgian Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the city at the beginning of the 1980s and travelled to London and Paris together, showcasing their unique avant-garde style of fashion.
The city is home to MoMu – ModeMuseum – the popular fashion museum. The building (above) is also home to The Academy of Fashion and the Flanders Fashion Institute. If you are ever in Antwerp, check it out – I intend to!
Whilst researching the city and finding photos, etc, I came across this blog – Antwerp Fashion Observer. I think this demonstrates how Antwerp has produced such amazing designers and will continue to do so.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this. More soon. Love, SG