Your ticket to Antwerp

12 Jul

by Marjan Schrooten//

Having lived in London for several years as a twenty-something singleton embracing the Britannia cool, I have returned to my hometown, Antwerp. With a fresh perspective on European urban living, I have discovered that my city has at least as much to offer as any other metropolis:  shops, bars, restaurants, culture and entertainment,…

In Antwerp, it’s all within walking distance from a quaint historic centre. As I recently gave birth to a little baby girl, this can only serve as an advantage, as there will be lots of urban (Bugaboo) strolling going on from now on! I will keep us up to date about the Antwerp city life: the shops, the arts, daily life and gastronomy, while avoiding any superabundance of chocolates and beer as topics (as tempting as this might be).

 

Antwerp, an introduction

For those of you who have never heard of Antwerp (and this is no shame), a first introductory blog piece might be in order. It’s a medieval Flemish port town in the north of Belgium, still breathing its past whilst blending it smoothly with the new and trendy: next to a baroque or gothic church you may well find a pop-up store or vintage boutique.

In the business world, Antwerp is most known as the world’s centre for diamond trading (eight out of ten diamonds in the world have passed Antwerp at some point) and for its large port, but it is also a fashion hub: at the Antwerp fashion academy, some of the most internationally acclaimed designers learned the tricks of the trade. About 25 years ago, the ‘Antwerp 6’ (Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Bikkembergs, Walter Van Beirendonck , Dries Van Noten, Dirk van Saene and Marina Yee) made their way into the fashion world, distinguishing themselves by being quite different from their peers. Today these names need no more introduction, nor do these more recent graduates: Stephan Schneider, Raf Simons, Veronique Branquinho, A.F. vandevorst, Bruno Pieters, Tim Van Steenbergen, Haider Ackerman.  Most of these designers have their own flagship store in Antwerp, making it a great place to shop till you drop… (i.e.: blog posts to follow about these!)

Antwerp may not be largest city in Belgium (that title belongs to the more centrally located Brussels), but its inhabitants sure do treat it like it is, with a great sense of pride in the way their city has evolved over the centuries, and is still changing every day. During an interview about an American remake of a very popular Flemish film, the lead actor – born and bred in Antwerp – was asked whether he was at all intimidated by Hollywood. His reply: ‘Are you kidding me, I’m from Antwerp!’.

Let’s see if I can second that emotion…

CREDITS: Text: Marjan// Photography: Dimitria

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