Paris, London, Milan, Rome are most often associated as the fashion capitals of Europe. However, Antwerp with a comparatively smaller population of half a million people is a strong contender and a worthy destination for fashionistas.
One of the driving forces behind the emergence of Antwerp as fashion powerhouse is the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Established in 1963, the fashion program stands in the upper echelons of highly ranked institutions in the world, notably the likes of Central Saint Martins in London and Parsons in New York. Among the school’s most renowned alumni include the current creative director for Dior – Raf Simons, Martin Margiela and the iconic “Antwerp 6” (Walter van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries van Noten, Dirk Van Saen, Dirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee).
Also worth checking out is the fashion centric Mode Museum (MoMu). During my visit in the spring of 2014, the headline exhibit was the feather themed “Birds of Paradise”. Several designs on display evoked the final seasons of Alexander McQueen’s runway collection – dark and brooding.
While in Antwerp – don’t forget to indulge in the famous Belgian waffles and chocolates – YUM!
Dries Vane Noten’s Store Front
“Birds of Paradise Exhibit” at MoMu
Architectural contrast of the Old (Cathedral of our Lady) and New (Museum aan de Stroom)