12hrs in Antwerp


TV host Tiany Kiriloff takes us on a tour through the Belgian fashion capital.

1.30pm // Nationaalestraat

Phew, that was a lot of fashion, time for some food! Before Tiany is taking us to her favorite lunch spot in the city, we have some exploring to do. Leaving the area around Schuttershofstraat, we are headind over to Nationaalestraat. Here, you find a different Antwerp. That of antique and vintage stores, small boutiques and cozy cafés. You’ll also walk by Dries van Noten’s amazing flagship store in a beautiful old building that belongs to his family. Walk around it, take in the breathtaking designs in the windows, but don’t bother to go in unless you have serious cash to spend. Sadly, the sales’ staff aren’t the most welcoming.

 

1.45pm // Chez Fred

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Walking down in the direction of the river from Nationaalestraat, we’re taking a left and enter Klosterstraat for our lunch destination.

In an earlier version of our guide, we visited Ra Kitchen. This beloved lunch spot has sadly closed its doors now. But don’t worry, you won’t continue your day lunch-less. Tiany has a great alternative tip, and it’s just down the street.

Chez Fred is a cozy restaurant with small wooden tables and a terrace overlooking busy Kloosterstraat. It’s open from breakfast to dinner, and while they are booked out fast at night, it’s rather easy to get a table here in the afternoon and enjoy lunch. The cuisine is traditional Belgium with a modern twist, but there are also always lots of pasta dishes and nice salads on the menu. Main dishes start at 9,50 Euro for Spaghetti Bolognese.

Chez Fred // Kloosterstraat 8 // Mon-Sun from 10am // website

 

2.30pm // Viar

With a belly full of treats, let’s step into the adjoining shops. Antwerp’s love for design comes in many shapes and forms, most notably there are two major directions you will find in the city: Cutting edge, avant-gardist work you have just seen at Ra, and classic, vintage design. So after half a day of ogling the new, luxurious, and exciting creations of some of the fashion folk, let’s travel back in time and admire what past generations have to offer.

Tiany loves herself some good vintage clothes, too. Her pick for us is Viar, an extremely charming, loft-like space just down Klosterstraat. You’ll only find one mannequin in the window, and then you’ll be taken by all the wonderful furniture. If you’re just looking for the clothes (sadly only women’s, sorry boys!), head straight to the back where you’ll find gems from mostly Belgian and French designers. On our visit, we spotted several vintage Celine pieces and even an old, original Ballet costume from Paris. But if you just have the slightest interest in design beyond fabrics, you’ll be in heaven here. The selection of interior design items from past decades is breathtaking! On your way out, don’t forget to glimpse in the big glas boxes. They are stock-full of luxury handbags and leather accessories.

Viar // Kloosterstraat 65

 

3pm // Walk back to Nationaalestraat

Now that you’re in the mood, let’s focus a bit on furniture. On your way back to Nationaalestraat, you’ll pass countless shops with windows filled with everything from wonderful to whacky. If you’re lucky, you can make great deals here. On Fridays, the famous Vrijdagmarkt takes place nearby.

For an overview of all the vintage shops around Klosterstraat, visit kloosterstraat.com

3.15pm // MOMU: Fashion Museum Of Antwerp

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There is a reason why Antwerp’s fashion museum is on every must-see list for the Flamish city. It just is that good! The museum’s collection of clothes in uniquely impressive. Until today, the curators have collected over 25.000 items, from clothing to shoes and accessories and lace. The oldest pieces date as far back as the 16th century, some newer additions are coming from more contemporary designers such as Ann Demeulemeester, Bernhard Wilhelm and Dries von Noten.

Instead of putting these items on display in a permanent exhibition, they opted for varying thematic exhibitions on one specific designer or fashion-related topic, such as patterns or lace. Carefully curated exhibitions take you in to the mind of the creators of styles sometimes long gone, but still relevant. Past exhibitions have featured such iconic designers as Maison Martin Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto or Madame Grès.

The whole thing is housed in the ModeNatie, a beautiful building complex that also hosts the world-famous fashion department of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Before you leave: The bookstore at the entrance feels like a small museum itself, with shelves full of beautiful editions about design, fashion and architecture.

MOMU: Fashion Museum Province Of Antwerp // Nationalestraat 28 // Tue-Sun 10am-5pm, Admission: 5 Euro //website
Pictures: Sonja Dewolf, MoMu

5pm // Rosier 41 & Labels Inc.

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So much inspiration, that should give you enough energy for one final round of clothes hunting. And this one’s really worth it, Tiany saved some of her best tips for last: ‘There are many great boutiques in this city that sell used designer items for a fraction of their original price’, she explains. Her favorite hunting grounds are just a short walk away from the fashion museum.

Heading over on the other side of Nationaalestraat, she leads us through nice shopping streets full of vintage stores and street wear shops into a more residential area. And just when we think that we got lost, we arrive at the junction of Rosier and Aalmoezenierstraat. Here, you’ll find both Rosier 41 and a bit further down, Labels Inc. Both shops don’t look like a lot from the outside, but on the racks you’ll find carefully selected designer items, most of them barely used, for a bargain. They also sell shoes and accessories for both men and women.

Rosier 41 // Rosier 41 // Mon-Sat 10.30am-6pm // website
Labels Inc. // Aalmoezenierstraat 3a // Mon-Tue & Thu-Sat 11am-6pm, Wed 2pm-6pm // website

 

6pm // RA

And lastly, one of the favorite places of the 12hrs team: Ra! Ra is maybe Antwerp’s most notorious concept store. Labelled an ‘interactive space’, it is as much a showcase of progressive fashion as it is a clothes store. Wander around the floor and take that chance to actually get a close-up look of all those weirdly interesting clothes. You might not pull off a sparkly jumpusuit or that cape and Buffalo boots, but looking at it is fun as hell. Their selection of shoes and accessoires for both women and men is extensive, and there is always a small but especially stellar selection of special vintage pieces on the racks. Don’t miss them!

The shop was previously located in Kloosterstraat, but has moved now. It’s now located in another city part (find the new address below) and on the first floor. Our photos still show the old shop, so please don’t get confused!

RA // Kleine Markt 7-9, 1st floor // Tue-Sat 11am-6pm, Sun-Mon Closed // website

 

7pm // Restaurent Marcel

Tiany’s restaurant of choice today: Marcel. The typically Belgian brasserie is located near the harbour and the new MAS museum, so we take a taxi for the short ride there (or hop on a bike, just as you like). This eatery is housed in a former church for seamen, with the beautiful facade still intact. Staff are super-friendly and quick on their feet, the open wines are all affordable and excellent, and the classic food a standout.

Restaurant Marcel // Van Schoonbekeplein 13 // Mon-Fri 12am-1.30am & 7pm-9.30pm, Sat 7pm-9.30pm // website
Pictures: Johan Blommaert, Marcel

 

9.30pm // Polymagie

Antwerp has a lot of great bars – you just need to find them. Tiany’s suggestion is Polymagie, a pop-up bar on trendy Kammenstraat that boosts a hip crowd, strong drinks, and great DJs at the weekends. Opened by a collective of young artists that uses the space to display art, designers and upcoming bands alike, it attracts artsy types and laid-back folks. From here, you’ll be able to walk back home to the B&B or take a tram to the main station to say farewell to the city of Diamonds. Check Polymagie’s Facebook page to see if they are open!

Polymagie // Kleine Markt 6 // website and website

The Map

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These were 12 hrs in East London! To discover more locations and stories from here, head over to the Hyères category of our blog! Just click HERE.


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