Antwerp and the shop: a love story in 5 streets
Here, Gothic flamenco, avant-garde architecture, port gentrification or multiculturalism do not matter. Antwerp, despite having it all, is above any trait because this city is - drum-free - ... fashion. Here Mario Testino puts on his boots using his streets as a studio and his design school is the largest talent pool in the world. And all without artifice, without glowing neons or shrill sales. Only with shop windows that, aside prices, are pure art.
The towers of the cathedral bell tower are reflected in the windows of Het Modepaleis. These are the few seconds of glory that traditional monuments can have on this street, the axis of fashion in the city. This store has become an icon and a reference and not only because it is a delicate Art Nouveau building. Here is the mother house of Dries van Noten, one of the creators children of the city and a member of those 'Six of Antwerp' that in the 80s put this city on the always complex map of world fashion.
This temple is the starting point of a narrow road that is strongly committed to design and quickly reveals its Mode Museum, the place to patiently display different trends, artists and fashion collections. The room where all ideas that flow along the planet's catwalks solidify, in a way. From this emblematic corner a route is drawn where the shop windows of the boutiques alternate with conventional shops. A must is the little shoe store Elsa Proost ('former' professional of Van Noten and Margiela), the wonders of Lila Grace or the most hipster optician in Belgium: e.Where to try on glasses is to travel to a planet of nostalgia and wants.
In the immediate vicinity of the Nationalstraat (and clearly influenced by its estilazo) stands out the flirtatious Vrijdagmarkt square with its Vrijdagmarkt 13 only for men or the risky shop of Stephan Schneider in Reynederstraat.
Exhibition 'Living Fashion' © MoMu - Fashion Museum in Antwerp
If a street is able to summarize the commercial history of this city that is Klosterstraat. Here the antiquarian stores not only continue to be queens, but also have managed to attract modern audiences (it will be the old is always in fashion). Its sidewalks crowd old junk while its shop windows give way to corridors with overbooking of antiques in which it is impossible not to fall into voyeurism.
His essentials are the 46Klosterstraat and its small design museum of the twentieth century; the almost prehistoric books of Erik Tonen, the essential furniture of Parazaarthe flourishes of Interieur Différent, the carpets of Tita Flying, the modernities of Hot and Cold or Loft Styles, or the irresistible surprises of Woodstock. That while falling into those little shops with a horror vacui stimulant like Chelsea or Koethuis.
If you like to discover treasures, Interieur Différent is your place © Interieur Différent
FROM WILDE ZEE
This pedestrian oasis and terrace of the city center is, of course, another focus for relaxed shopping. The name takes it from an old spring that caused small floods (in Spanish, Wilde Zee it is wild sea) but today this area is governed by pavement, parks and trees. In the vertex that form the streets Wieg, Groendal, Schrijnwerker, Lombarden Y Korte Gasthuis the most universal firms alternate with boutiques like Anna HeylenAcne From Groene Wolk (for the little ones) or Louis, the first establishment that opted for Six of Antwerp. And all in a little voracious, quiet environment with thousands of small restaurants that invite you to relax after shopping.
The creativity of the Maison Anna Heylen conquers © Maison Anna Heylen
The Golden Mile of Antwerp not a mile of gold any. And that is to say. This accumulation of luxury firms has also been influenced by the Antwerp brand, that which sophisticated and individualizes everything it touches. Here the most universal luxury firms They coexist with genuinely Amberine or Belgian establishments making a perfect blend that perfectly summarizes the meanings of the word 'exclusive'. And the Gucci, Hermes or Jimmy Choo on duty have to add outstanding stores such as DVS where to admire (and if that, acquire) Van Beirendonck designs, Dirk Van Saene -owner of the acronyms-, Raf Simons, Veronique Branquinho or Sofie d'Hoore. An establishment without ostentations but perfect, able to shine without shop windows, standing on the first floor of a bourgeois building of wood and plaster.
The dishes of the Graanmarkt 13 restaurant could almost be exhibited in its gallery © Graanmarkt 13
Other of the proper names of the Schutterhofstraat and surroundings are Delvaux, the most important luxury leather goods firm in Belgium, Coccodrilo and its shiny shoes, Essentiel or the multidisciplinary Graanmarkt 13, a brutalist space capable of being a shop, luxury apartment, art gallery and restaurant at the same time.
The confirmation that Antwerp is an ideal city to buy is the Meir street. Apparently it is the classic large commercial artery where signatures are established that they make August with the thirties thirsty for news. But, despite the laziness (or not) that can generate so much global brand, it is worth sneaking into your little models to meet beautiful shops that occupy the best plants in the Ensanche of Antwerp. The climax is undoubtedly the Stadsfeestzaal, the old ballroom of the region converted into a shopping center. Or what is the same, enter to dance a minuet To end up buying like a Cossack. Incomparable.
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Graanmarkt 13 always hides surprises © Graanmarkt 13