I’ve been a bit of a bad blogger lately. There’s not been much blogging at all (well, at least not on here, but some here). As you can imagine, the backlog of posts I’ve been meaning to write is reaching epic proportions, so I’m going to buckle up and blog like there’s no tomorrow to slowly start getting through it!
Just over a month ago, I was invited to go to Antwerp to attend the Royal Academy graduate show and explore the city. I’ve always wanted to go to the show so of course I jumped at the opportunity. Being a tourist in your native country can be a strange experience – yes, I speak the language and know the city, but simultaneously I felt so much like a foreigner. Growing up, I used visit Antwerp with my mom a couple of times a year to go shopping, then there was a school trip once or twice and a couple of great nights out partying, but I can’t say the Antwerp I visited last month was anything like the one I remember.
It’s still the fashion capital of Belgium, with endless beautiful independent boutiques, but it’s definitely gotten so much better in the past decade (aside from the high street which could basically be any high street in the UK). It’s packed with history. It’s a heaven for foodies and coffee aficionados. It has a great street art scene and it’s young and it’s vibrant and it’s creative and it’s very very stylish on every level. Part of that creativity of course comes from the renowned Royal Academy of Fine Arts, which has seen some of the best designers and artists walk through its ancient hallways over hundreds of years. We got to visit the Academy just as the graduating students were being judged by an international panel, so the atmosphere in the building was beyond electric.
After our visit it was off for drinks with the Flanders Fashion Institute, followed by a delicious (and very Belgian!) dinner at Bocadero on the banks of the river Schelde, which gets transformed into a beach during summer. This was great fuel for the epic, 4 hour long graduate show, which I will cover in a separate post (there’s simply too many pictures). In the morning we got to explore the city once more, with the help of Belgian blogging duo The Merrymakers followed by brunch at the Academy, where the students would be receiving their grades and awards with the help of the infamous Antwerp Six (Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Walter Van Beirendonck, Marina Yee, Dirk Bikkembergs and Dirk Van Saene), who all graduated together in the early Eighties.
To be surrounded by Belgium’s finest designers of the past and future was a definite highlight for me. I spotted a number of young talents I can’t wait to see evolve into fashion superstars, I got a peek at this magical school which has produced so many incredible designers and I briefly reconnected with this beautiful city I now can’t wait to explore further, as 24 hours simply isn’t enough to visit Antwerp.
To quote Arnie: I’ll be back.
Thanks to Visit Flanders for the great trip!
Some works of the Costume Design department:
Jewellery graduate works
Fellow blogger Elle from A Bird In The Hand
Dinner at Bocadero:
(wouldn’t be Belgium without fries)
Wearing McQ dress / Balenciaga motorcycle bag
Dries Van Noten
Ann De Meulemeester
Walter Van Beirendonck