"If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium"
You might have heard of the 1969 romantic comedy movie “If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium”. It was directed by Mel Stuart, filmed on location throughout Europe, and features many cameo appearances from various stars. It follows a group of travellers from the USA racing through seven European countries in 18 days.
Not that I invite you to make the same journey, but a short stay in Belgium is certainly worthwhile. This small country of only 12,000 square miles, populated by 11 million inhabitants divided in three language communities - French, Dutch (or Flemish) and German - has indeed a wealth of authentic products to offer.
You will know Belgian beer, and for sure Belgian chocolate – which on their own, merit already a visit. But for a fashionista Belgian designers are the ultimate luxury.
Groundbreaking designers such as Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Bikkembergs, Marina Yee, Dirk Van Saene and Walter Van Beirendonck (the “Antwerp 6”) redefine fashion in the 1980s. The ‘Six’ and Martin Margiela (later referred to as the 6+) graduated from the Fashion Department of the Antwerp Academy in 1980, '81 and '82 and, even then, were regarded as something of a revolutionary force. Many of the ‘Six’ will continue to live and work in Antwerp for the coming decades. Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester based their headquarters in the city, as did Walter Van Beirendonck, who went on to become head of the Fashion Department at the Academy.
In the 90’s the 6 + Martin Margiela drew international attention to Antwerp, which then saw the rise of a new generation including Raf Simons, Veronique Branquinho and A.F. Vandevorst.
The start of the new century saw the emergence of designers such as Bruno Pieters, Christian Wijnants, Haider Ackermann and Tim Van Steenbergen. Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos graduated in 2004 and 2005 respectively and worked together in Antwerp before launching their acclaimed label in London in 2007.
For more details on the Antwerp designers click here.
Now let me take you on a personal shopping tour through Brussels (the capital of Belgium) and Antwerp so you can discover what authentic Belgium has to offer you – and bring some of these creations back home.