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Antwerp / JET SETTING: THE ANTWERP TOUR

The staff of The Skinny has had a big day, and we can’t wait to share it with you- but first we need to put our feet up. Yes, ahhh, that’s it. Why are our dog’s barking, you ask? Because today we traversed through the great city of Antwerp, Belgium, city block by city block with AfterDrk.com blogger Sabrina (you know her from yesterday’s blogger restyle event) and Antwerp’s man-about-town, tourguide extraordinaire Tanguy Ottomer (pronounced “Tohn-ghee“).

THE TOUR BEGINS: (1) The first stop on our tour was MoMu, or the Mode Museum, an ultra modern building that houses rotating fashion exhibitions, an archive of Belgian fashion designer lines and a gallery of Royal Academy of Art and Flanders Fashion Institute student work. When Tanguy isn’t giving tours of his hometown or offering personal styling, he also works at MoMu. (2) We’re not exaggerating when we tell you that everybody in Antwerp knows Tanguy– store owners, designers, local characters, the lady working at the coffee stand by the Museum van Schone Kunsten… We speculate his fame is partially because of his knowledge and love of Antwerp and partially because of his hilarious facial expressions. (3) In De Roscam, the place to go for a coffee or a sandwich, or to wile away the afternoon, according to Tanguy. (4) Walking quickly keep up with our guide, Sabrina tells us, “I thought I knew a lot about the city, but this is all new to me!”

THE ANTWERP SIX: (5) Tanguy takes us to Louis, a historic store on Lombardenstraat that was one of the first to sell the designs of the infamous Antwerp Six; a group of six designers that rose to fame in the 1980s. Dirk Bikkembergs, Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Van Saene, Marina Yee caught the eye of the design world, but were collectively christened the Antwerp Six when their names tied the tongues of their fans. (6) Ann Demeulemeester, who happens to be Sabrina’s favorite of the six designers, shows her edgy and dark designs in her storefront. (7) She also designed a park bench in the Beeldhouwersstraat square nearby, as well as was asked to design a dress for (8) a statue of the Virgin Mary in Antwerp’s Saint Andrew’s Church. To round out our education of the Antwerp Six, Tanguy takes us to (9) the Dries Van Noten storefront, telling us that the Van Noten family had a history in clothing making and nearby buildings still have (10) the family’s original logo on the windows to prove it.

IN WITH THE NEW: It’s no wonder than a fashion historian like Tanguy knows the newest and best boutiques around the fashion capital of Belgium– (11) like Ra. In his usual fashion, Tanguy talks up one of the concept store’s founders while we check out (12) his gold shoes. Inside, (13) Sabrina shops the racks of new and vintage clothes as we meander the stores other spaces; it has a book store, exhibition space and (14) food corner that’s looking really good right now… (15) Tanguy says of Ra and other similar stores, “concept stores like this in big cities feel huge and impersonal, here [in Antwerp] they are very intimate.”

THERE’S ALWAYS MORE TO SEE: (16) Sabrina walks past the front of the Anarto art gallery, prompting Tanguy to touch on the unusual architecture. He tells us that after WWII, a lot of Belgium was destroyed, but that the citizens of the city put in an unparalleled effort to retain elements like this all wood facade. “Old buildings keep in tone with the town. If it were all new buildings, Antwerp would lose it’s feel.” The view from Renaissance, (17) a designer boutique that lights up Sabrina’s eyes when we walk into it, echoes Tanguy’s statement. Where there is a new, modern side to Antwerp, the historical piece is never far away. (18) We walk past a leftover installation of Unraveld- can you spot the knitted city accessories? After a long day of exploring, (19) Tanguy gets a rest in front of one of his favorite stores, while (20) Sabrina enjoys the views from 18th century steps nearby.