BRUSSELS BELGIUM EUROPE
SEPT 22-OCT 6 2011 ISSUE 2 €4.95
The Wonderful World of
VAN BEIRENDONCK Brigitte Grouwels on the Brussels chainsaw massacre
How to find your Wim Vandekeybus dream job in Belgium dances to a wild beat in ‘Oedipus/bêt noir’
Antwerp shopping DEPOT BRUXELLES X
3 THE BULLETIN
t’s so nice to have you back,” said a reader after our first issue in the new livery. Another said they liked it “immensely”, a third reader commented on being so happy to have an “old friend back”. These comments and many others show that we may well have got it right. There’s of course much more to do, to make you, our readers, comfortable with the magazine’s new style, rhythm and layout. Don’t worry, we won’t let you down. Meanwhile, a Taiwanese manga titled ‘No government, no problem in Belgium’ has become a surprise hit on the internet. It shows carefree Belgians enjoying life while the rest of Europe sulks: growth is stalling, the euro is wobbling, stocks are sinking and economic uncertainties are taking their toll. Yet the employment market here remains buoyant: there are thousands of unfilled jobs across the country. Finding the one you are looking for may not be as easy as you think. In this issue, Sabine Clappaert gives tips on how to increase your chances in finding employment here. For our cover story this week, we take a trip to Antwerp. The vibrant port city, barely 40 kilometres from Brussels, is one of the world’s leading cities for fashion. Hettie Judah talks to Walter Van Beirendonck, one of the six Antwerp designers who some 30 years ago pried open the doors of the closely knit fashion world and issued in a blast of change that helped move the industry into the 21st century. We also invite you to discover other, more intimate aspects of Antwerp through the eyes of Stephanie Duval. She’ll lead you to the most delightful shops in the most fascinating parts the city. A visit to iconic luxury leather goods producer Delvaux will feed your dreams of a perfect gift. We take a look at this prestigious company’s history, its recent negotiations with a Chinese investor, and glance inside the workshop where craftsmen make each bag, each wallet, unique. And there’s more in this issue, with the usual lifestyle and community pages to help you meet some of the 250,000 international residents who make life in this country so interesting. Have a good read.
There’s much more to do, to make you, our readers, comfortable with the magazine’s new style, rhythm and layout. Don’t worry, we won’t let you down
John Stuyck Publisher
Cover: Walter Van Beirendonck in his atelier in Antwerp. Photographed by Natalie Hill General manager Joske Plas Managing Editor Deborah Forsyth Section Editors Sarah McFadden (Culture), Sarah Crew (Events), Kathleen Cagney (Film & TV), Tamara Gausi (Lifestyle & Features), Sally Tipper (Community), Deborah Forsyth (Politics & Business) News Leo Cendrowicz (Belgium), Martin Banks (Brussels), Jennifer Baker (Europe)
Thomas Buytaert Art Director Patricia Brossel
Contributors Paul Ames,
Martin Banks, Emma Beddington, Joel Blocker, Leo Cendrowicz, Sabine Clappaert, Marcel Croës, Kristof Dams, Claire Davenport, Pierre-Michel Doutreligne, Oonagh Duckworth, Marie Dumont, Philip Ebels, Nicholas Hirst, Alan Hope, Shada Islam, Harlan Levey, Patrice Lieberman, Katrien Lindemans, Cleveland Moffett, Ian Mundell, Nikolaj Nielsen, Georgio Valentino, Emily von Sydow
Founder Monique Ackroyd OBE Publisher John Stuyck Advertising Paul Thyssens
(Sales executive), Helena Vreedenburgh (Sales executive), Evelyne Frégonèse (Account Executive), Ros Burnaby-Atkins (Real estate ads & classifieds) advertising@ ackroyd.be
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Stuart Smith, SSM Global Media Ltd, First floor, SSM House, 1 Cobden Court, Wimpole Close, Bromley, Kent BR2 9JF, tel 0044/208.464.55.77 or email email@example.com
Subscriptions Belgium 1 year €90 / 2 years €165. You can pay by bank transfer (ING 310-0883533-46 or KBC 432-2012231-12), or by sending a cheque or your Visa/Eurocard number and expiry date to Ackroyd Publications sa/nv. Contact us for details. Ackroyd Publications, A. Gossetlaan 30, 1702 Groot-Bijgaarden, fax 02.375.98.22 firstname.lastname@example.org
5 THE BULLETIN
p13 - Brigitte Grouwels
p42 - Oedipus/ Bêt noir
p54 - Walter Van Beirendonck’s world
Politics & Business
Culture & Events
Lifestyle & Community
7 News In Brief
27 Events In Brief
47 Lifestyle In Brief
13 Portrait – Brigitte Grouwels We meet the Brussels Minister for Public Works and Transport, who’s in charge of the city’s controversial plans to renovate the leafy, cobblestoned Avenue du Port
28 14 Days The Bulletin’s cultural highlights for the fortnight ahead – in Brussels and beyond
52 Food – Love at First Bite Eric Sohl, editor of Tasting & Living, gives us the inside scoop on his foodie favourites
35 Readers’ offers
16 Focus – Job market guide Inspite of the global financial crisis, there are still plenty of job posts in Belgium just waiting to be filled. We take a look at the employment sector on both sides of the linguistic divide
36 Film Reviews of the latest films to hit the big screen, plus cinema highlights not to miss
54 Focus – Walter’s World Inside the crazy but beautifully coutured world of Walter Van Beirendonck
20 Your Money
39 Focus – Meg Stuart A sneak preview of the latest rock and roll work by Brussels-based American choreographer Meg Stuart
21 The Brand – Delvaux How a one-boutique leather goods store in Brussels grew into an international household name 25 Know-How Our guide to childcare in Brussels 26 Digital What’s new in the virtual world
38 TV Essential viewing on the small screen
42 Focus – Wim Vandekeybus Fiery Flemish dancer Wim Vandekeybus is back with a riveting new production Oedipus/Bêt Noir. We took a look
60 Focus – Antwerp Academy New fashion talents to look out for 62 Behind the Scenes 64 Up My Street 66 Travel The Bulletin takes a tour round the hip streets of Antwerp 72 Community 77 Property 83 Classifieds 87 Jobs 90 Capital Life A member of the international community opens up her diary for the Bulletin
Editeur Responsable /Verantwoordelijke uitgever: John Stuyck, A. Gossetlaan 30, 1702 Groot-Bijgaarden. Opinions expressed in The Bulletin are those of the authors alone. For reasons of space, street names in Brussels are given only in their French version.
7 THE BULLETIN
SEPTEMBER 22 - OCTOBER 6 2011
Politics & Business
BREAKTHROUGH! The eight political parties involved in Belgium’s coalition talks have reached a deal over the knotty issue of how to split the voting district around the linguistically divided Brussels Region, a breakthrough that could pave the way to a new government. The agreement on the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde constituency (BHV) – a sticking point for decades – means that French-speakers living in 29 Flemish suburbs around the capital will lose the right to vote for French-speaking candidates. However, the six Flemish municipalities around Brussels with language facilities for the French-speakers can still vote for local candidates or francophone candidates in Brussels. Just a day before the agreement, the talks appeared on the brink of collapse, but francophone Socialist Party (PS) leader Elio Di Rupo (above left, with Yves Leterme), who is leading the coalition talks, managed to cajole the other party leaders into a deal that marks the biggest political advance since the June 2010 elections.
28 CULTURE & EVENTS
14 DAYS The best of Brussels Performance
Events SAINTS MICHAEL AND GUDULA CATHEDRAL PARK
Brussels, sustainable city!
Stand Up Brussels
Brussels’ green credentials may not be obvious, but they are impressive – so impressive that the city has put in a confident bid for the title ‘European Green City’ of 2014. For starters, fully one-half of the region is green space. In addition, and just for instance, it is the first region anywhere to impose a zero-carbon standard on all new buildings from 2015 forward. Many more social, economic and environmental measures intended to transform Brussels into a liveable, sustainable city are presented in an exhibition housed in a purpose-built 25-metre-tall tower now standing in front of the cathedral. It’s made of metal scaffolding, and don’t worry: it’s only temporary. Visiting the show is fun, educational and inspiring. It’s also accessible to people with reduced mobility, or so they say. Those who make it to the top level are rewarded with a great view from an elevated garden created by the artist Bob Verschueren, whose solo show ‘Bioadversity’ is on view at Le Botanique. You’ve got to see it. Sept 22 listing
Need a fix of English-language humour? Look no further than the UK comedy circuit that takes up residence at Théâtre 140 for a monthly series of shows. It kicks off the new season with Seann Walsh deftly delivering punch lines along with fellow Brits Phil Butler and Josh Widdicombe. The series continues on October 22 with EastEnd cabaret in a musical romp that sends bawdy gags flying from start to finish. For the full ‘anglophile’ experience, tuck in to an Indian buffet laid on from 19.15 (€10). Sept 24 listing
Comic draw Seann Walsh KIDS' STUFF
THURSDAY SEPT 22 NOTHING HURTS + DEUX VOIX UNTIL OCT 1 19.00
Double bill opens the new season: Deux Voix by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Cor Herkströter; Nothing Hurts by Falk Richter (in French). Théâtre Les Tanneurs, 75 Rue des Tanneurs, www.tanneurs.be LE TOUR DU MONDE EN 80 JOURS SEPT 22-OCT 22
Jules Verne’s celebrated work staged by Thierry Debroux. Terrific family fare (in French). Théâtre Royal du Parc, 3 Rue de la Roi, www.theatreduparc.be ISELP CELEBRATES 40 YEARS SEPT 22-25
Four-day celebration at the contemporary art space with exhibitions, talks, performances and films. ISELP, 31 Blvd de Waterloo www.iselp.be
MUSEUM NOCTURNES SEPT 22-DEC 15
Late opening every Thursday in selected museums. Check the changing list each week. www.nocturnes.brusselsmuseums.be BRUSSELS,SUSTAINABLE CITY
Brussels really is going green. Find out how in this tall, environmentally friendly, makeshift tower. Description above Saints Michael and Gudula Cathedral Park www.villedurable.be FRIDAY SEPT 23 MEDEA SEPT 23 & 24
Butoh dancer Carlotta Ikeda enacts the eroticism and violence of the legendary tragic figure. Text by French writer Pascal Quignard, music by Alain Mahé. Bozar, 3 Rue Ravenstein www.bozar.be
AUGUSTE ORTS SEPT 23 & 24
Video projects by the esteemed Belgian artists grouped under this monniker plus several guests. Bozar, 3 Rue Ravenstein www.bozar.be RALLYE CHANTONS FRANCAIS SEPT 23-25
Free French chanson concerts in 15 venues. City-wide www.rallyechantonsfrancais.be BRUSSELS BIKE TOURS UNTIL OCT 31
Daily four-hour tours in English take in most of downtown plus the EU district. Pit stop for frites at the famous Maison Antoine and beer in a local bar. Tourist Information Office Hôtel de Ville, Grand’Place www.brusselsbiketours.com
LA NUIT DES CHERCHEURS 18.00
The mutual dependence of art and science is elucidated in child-friendly workshops, talks, demonstrations, 3-D projections and more, presented in three Brussels institutions: the Museum of Fine Arts, IRPA (Institut Royal du Patrimoine artistique) and the Royal Planetarium. Find out from a watercolourist whose special subject is mushrooms, why, in this high-tech age, botanical drawing is still a thriving occupation. Multiple venues www.nuitdeschercheurs.be RED STRIPE REGGAE BUS FESTIVAL SEPT 23 & 24
Indoor fest of reggae and dub music. Tour & Taxis, 86 Ave du Port www.reggaebus.be
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SEPTEMBER 22 - OCTOBER 6 2011
Cecilia Bengolea, Francois Chaignaud and associates in Free Dance, at Latitudes Lille Bruxelles
LES HALLES DE SCHAERBEEK
Latitudes Lille Bruxelles Resolutely contemporary cross-border dance festival is held in Brussels in alternate years, and this year is it. World-class participants in the programme of dance, performance art and lectures include Gaëtan Bulourde, Mathilde Monnier, Daniel Linehan and Olga de Soto. Among the questions asked: how does a dance piece change over the years; how does music influence the body and vice vice-versa? Meet the performers and learn what inspires them. Sept 27 listing
SUNDAY SEPT 25 UNCENSORED UNTIL JULY 8
STAND UP COMEDY 20.30
Final show before the museum closes for major renovations takes visitors behind the scenes and back in time to the days when the museum was founded as a colonial project. Curiosities abound. Africa Museum, Tervuren www.africamuseum.be
Seann Walsh launches new UK comedy season. Description on page 28 Théâtre 140, 140 Ave E Plasky www.standupworld.com
SATURDAY SEPT 24
LIBERTINE OFFICIAL KOMPAKT TOTAL 23.00
Compilation party at the canalside hotspot. K-Nal, 1 Ave du Port www.libertinesupersport.be
SOLIDARITY CAMP UNTIL OCT 1
What’s become of solidarity? Polish theatre company Nowy Teatr Warszawa entertain the question in performances, concerts, talks, films and workshops held in five metal sheds that have been temporarily set up in the square behind the KVS. They come from the shipyard of Gdansk, where they formerly served as workers’ social centres. Free entrance. KVS, 146 Rue de Laeken www.kvs.be
THE JAPANESE POPSTARS 20.00
Don’t be fooled by the name – this award-winning electronic band hail from Derry, Northern Ireland. Ancienne Belgique, 110 Blvd Anspach, www.abconcerts.be DESIGNERS WEEKEND SEPT 24 & 25
Design stores, showrooms and shops open their doors to the public. Free shuttle bus service. City-wide www.designseptember.be
JARDINS EN FETE 10.00-18.00 DIPTYCH SERIES – JEROME LATTEUR UNTIL NOV 5
Photo diptychs of Bozar’s Horta-designed building. Bozar, 23 Rue Ravenstein www.bozar.be
Forty private and semi-private gardens open to the public. Register at http://jardinsenfetebrp.net for free guided tour MONDAY SEPT 26
FETES ROMANES SEPT 25 & 26
TOMMY DENYS 21.00-23.00
Wolubilis launches the season with a fantastic, free street theatre festival. 20-some troupes from far and near. Place du Temps Libre, 251 Ave P Hymans, www.wolubilis.be
‘Stop Listen’, a new Monday evening series showcasing latest music happenings, kicks off with Denys, one of the heads of the Kraak record label. Café Bonnefooi, 8 Rue des Pierres, www.bonnefooi.be
HORECA LIFE SEPT 25-27
Gastronomy fair themed ‘Senses & Sensations’. Tour & Taxis, 86C Ave du Port www.horecalife.be FETE DU PLATEAU D’AVIJL
Tour the vegetable plots and open fields of this unspoiled haven. Music, food and fun. see page 65 Montagne de St-Job, basketball field, www.avijl.org
OIL AESTHETICS UNTIL NOV 30
Italian photographer Marco Paolini’s black-and-white photographs of abandoned oil wells in Azerbaijan. Halles Saint-Géry 25 Place Saint-Géry www.hallessaintgery.be Full listing on www.thebulletin.be
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LOVE AT FIRST BITE The inside scoop on foodie favourites Eric Sohl
ince its launch last October, Tasting & Living has established itself as the leading foodie blog in Brussels. Under the impeccable stewardship of editor Eric Sohl, it also covers a lot more than just where to eat. Along with reviews and recipes, Tasting & Living covers travel, art and design news from all over the world and will soon be organising themed art gallery dinners in Brussesl (keep an eye on the Tasting & Living website for more information). They’ve even managed to bag an exclusive interview with René Redzepi of Noma, the Copenhagen restauarant voted the world’s best earlier this year. Here Sohl reveals his foodie secrets, from where to get the best fresh fish to how to make the perfect tomates crevettes. www.tastingandliving.com
“I’ve travelled all over the world but I keep coming back to a classic: tomates crevettes. Easy to do but hard to get right”
I’m not really a bar person but the Pixel Bar has to be my favourite at the moment. However, I am desperately scouting Brussels to find a top cocktail bar – I have a bit of an addiction to cocktails, especially a Shirley Temple! PIXEL BAR 39-41 Rue Ernest Allard, Brussels, www.pixelwinebar.be
We say: The Pixel Bar, which opened in October 2009, was designed by renowned Belgian designer Charles Kaisin. The décor comprises thousands of tiny squares in 27 colours made from acoustic foam and wool, which look like an overblown picture. We don’t know if it has Shirley Temples on its menu but you can always ask - for info, it’s a non-alcoholic cocktail made with ginger ale, grenadine and fresh lemon peel.
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SEPTEMBER 22 - OCTOBER 6 2011
My favourite Belgian drink is Maitrank. It’s a drink produced in the Ardennes and it’s served as an apéritif, made with white wine and a herb called sweet woodruff . The herb is soaked in wine from the Moselle area close to the Luxembourg border, with some oranges, and then bottled. It dates back a couple of centuries and is very refreshing – it has a slightly fruity flavour with a hint of wild flowers. Delicious and delicate! And you can now get it in some supermarkets, I think.
My favourite Belgian ingredient is probably Sirop de Liège. It has this thick, luscious, gooey consistency without being overly sweet and it is similar to English treacle but much more refined and subtle. It is a great base for a dark and powerful meat stock, then served with a piece of game. The packaging hasn’t changed in ages – the look is just the way I remember it when I was a kid .
My favourite restaurant changes every time I find a better one. And I do like to try new restaurants, so you can see the problem I have. But for the moment I would say that in Brussels, my favourite one would be Neptune. It has a charming retro logo and the interior is cosy, with big windows, old wooden floors, just a few tables and a very chilled ambience. The food is chalked up on the blackboard (so no à la carte) , but there’s always a fish or a meat dish. I’ve been there several times and I have never been disappointed in the choice on offer. The young chef is Swiss and very laid back. He works in a small kitchen around the corner from the guests, while his friend does the front of house. The wine list is concise but the choice is superb in relation to what he puts on your plate. Love it!
I’ve travelled quite a bit and tried local foods from all over the world, such as bashimi (raw horse meat in southern Japan) and mielie pap (a thick and stodgy corn-based porridge in Cape Town). However, I keep coming back to a classic: tomates crevettes. It is easy to do but hard to get right.
We say: Although it’s a traditional product of Arlon, May Wine, as it is known in English, actually originates from Germany. Its name derives from the fact that it’s served on May Day. Although widely available in Belgian supermarkets, family recipes in Arlon are fiercely guarded.
I like getting fruit and veg from the Sunday market on Place Gilson in Watermael-Boitsfort. But if I need a specific ingredient, the Marché des Chefs warehouse is the place to be. Fish is shipped from Brittany within 24 hours and they stock fabulous French meats like Limousin and Aubrac. Not to forget the oranges from Nice, lemons from Sicily and succulent Basque lamb. A tip for your shopping is to go on a Tuesday, that’s generally the day the fresh stuff comes in.
Depuis 1947 ...
NEPTUNE 48 Rue Lesbroussart, Brussels, www.neptuneresto.com
We say: Diners at Neptune are offered a five-course menu for €36 or a threecourse lunch menu for €18; both menus change weekly. Want to try for yourself? Neptune is open Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner
TOMATES CREVETTES (FOR TWO) • 250g grey North Sea shrimps • 4 large, plump, ripe Belgian tomatoes • 1 tbsp mayonnaise • 1 tsp olive oil • Salt & pepper • Broad-leafed parsley • Basil
Take the tomatoes and cut off the top part and then scoop out most of the inside flesh. Slice a sliver off the bottom of each tomato so it can stand upright. In the top part, cut out a circular opening to create a little wheel shape. Then make the filling: take 250g freshly peeled grey North Sea shrimps and mix them with a large tablespoon of mayonnaise. Add some broad-leafed parsley and some basil leaves, both chopped. Add a teaspoon of olive oil. Sprinkle some fleur de sel and black pepper over it and mix it all together. The shrimps should all have a thin coating of the dressing. Fill the four tomatoes and put their tops on. Put the remaining shrimps on the top of each tomato. Et voila! Serve with twice-baked handcut frites and a dollop of mayo on the side. Delicious.
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SEPTEMBER 22 - OCTOBER 6 2011
Walter’s world As a retrospective of his illustrious career opens in his hometown of Antwerp, Walter Van Beirendonck talks to The Bulletin about art, inflatables and corsets for men by hettie judah
Walter Van Beirendonck in his Antwerp atelier, August 2011. Portrait taken by Natalie Hill
uring the preparation for his show at MoMu, Walter Van Beirendonck’s Antwerp shop started to resemble a kind of wunderkammer. Every surface of the converted mechanic’s workshop seemed filled with ephemera and rack upon rack of clothes documenting the designer’s prolific, near three-decade-long career in fashion. Planning boards covered the back wall, with works by artists Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy pinned up alongside ethnographic photographs, fetish imagery, kitsch and graphic slogans. The cabanas that act as the shop’s display stands were stacked with decades of sketchbooks, accessories and memorabilia. Leant against the cabana struts were vast rolls of fabric, including a cartoon-giant version of a Chanel bouclé, men’s suiting tweeds shot through with turquoise and hemp, and brightly coloured wool sprouting caterpillar-sized tufts, destined to make shaggy, oversized coats for this season’s menswear collection. They were a stiff reminder that this was still a working studio: in the middle of all the navel-gazing, there were still clothes to produce and another collection to plan for. The fashion cycle doesn’t stop just because you’re suddenly having a major retrospective. In the middle of it, running between long cupboards and rotating rails, was Van Beirendonck, grabbing favourite pieces
from collections past as they attracted his attention, and arranging them lovingly as he cantered through the story of how they came to be and why. A millefeuille coat of perfectly tessellating layers, each in a different fabric – tweed, tablecloth, brocade, wool blanket, Mr Men-print cotton – inspired by the work of Erwin Wurm. There was a jacket made from stiff raffia sourced from a handbag manufacturer; shirts with metal corseting; a plastic jacket with inflatable muscles made by a firm that manufactures lilos and sex toys; intricate embroidered graphics featuring dinosaurs, bombs, hearts and tiny naked Walters. It felt like a never-ending parade of the fabulous and mysterious. While he seems to delight in creating a quite alarming image in his publicity photos, Van Beirendonck in person is rather joyous. His deft hands (he’s a great sketcher as well as a stitcher) bristle with outsized rings, and exquisite, genteel crystal earrings nestle in the edges of his papa-bear beard. He’s energising, entertaining company, so long as you’re not the kind of companion that’s offended by casual use of the word ‘penis’. Van Beirendonck’s bigness has an almost spiritual dimension; on the one hand it’s symbolic of his rejection of the fashion world’s blinkered body consciousness, and on the other it seems to represent a kind of generosity of spirit that comes as the flip side to his omnivorous interest in the
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Quilt coat taken from Walter Van Beirendonck’s Dissections collection, Autumn/ Winter 2000-01
graduates, including current fashion darling Peter Pilotto. Ever since he broke onto the scene in 1987 as one of the Antwerp Six designers, Van Beirendonck seems to have been running at the future full pelt. Right from the start, his work has been big, bright and loud, sexy and cheeky, featuring new and weird materials, and ever-funkier juxtapositions of colour, texture, sound and even smell. In 1993, he launched the pioneering streetwear label W< (Wild and Lethal Trash), with the backing of Mustang Jeans, and under the slogan ‘Kiss The Future’ engaged in six years of wild, well-funded experimentation. He produced clothing in plastics, latex, Tyvek, and laser-cut cloth. He created spectacular catwalk shows inspired by gaming avatars, aliens, safe-sex campaigns, Bears and the extreme body modifications of French artist Orlan. It was the first fashion label to create CD-ROMs and a website featuring its collections and original games.
“He’s energising, entertaining company, so long as you’re not the kind of companion that’s offended by casual use of the word ‘penis” world. Where other designers seem content to cannibalise fashion’s history, he takes inspiration from everywhere: art, anthropology, sexual subcultures, upholstery fabric, cutting-edge manufacturing techniques, sci-fi and sloganeering activism. He’s currently head of the Fashion Department at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and one imagines he’d make a compelling teacher. His support of the coming generation in fashion extends to a commercial level as well; his WALTERstore has sometimes been the first retail outlet for works by young
ooking through Van Beirendonck’s sketchbooks from the W< era, you see new civilisations emerging beneath his pen. He doesn’t draw just clothes, but a whole cast of characters, fierce and futuristic, their accessories strapped close around their bodies as if ready to engage in some kind of post-modern fashion warfare. He enjoys the process of drawing and it shows – the pictures are full of energy, apparently spontaneous outpourings of his vivid imagination. What’s interesting is that however far-fetched the sketches may appear, their translation into actual garments is immensely faithful. A design for a rich and intricate piece of embroidery on the sleeve of a brocade jacket is immaculately realised in the final garment. Van Beirendonck puts considerable effort into maintaining a close relationship with his manufacturers and sustaining their enthusiasm for experimentation – he needs to work with people who are constantly game for trying new techniques, and have the craftsmanship to make it possible. For all his rebel image, he’s passionate about old-fashioned couture skills, and the traditions of his trade. After leaving the Antwerp Academy in 1980, he and fellow graduates Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester and Dirk Van Saene went to work for an old-fashioned rainwear manufacturer. Bartsons was a kind of Belgian Burberry, and the eight years he spent working at the company left him with a love of well-made, beautiful garments. This appreciation for traditional tailoring has crept to the forefront of his work
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in the decade or so since the end of W<. Of course, a Van Beirendonck suit is never going to be a straight-up proposition; the immaculately cut trousers and sleeveless jackets in his latest collection were accessorised with long leather gloves, and other recent menswear collections have featured skirts, mini burkas and corsets. “Using pieces from the woman’s wardrobe, such as a skirt, creates a tension with traditional garments like suits. If you put a suit together with a corset, it’s a clear sign that something’s happening,” he explained. “For me, it’s a bigger experiment to work on that than just design another sweatshirt.” While he does design pieces for women, menswear is his primary area of interest, and his re-discovery of tailoring feeds into his on-going exploration of sexual and gender identity. “I really enjoy presenting the male body on a catwalk or in shoots and seeing how far you can push it and whether it’s still masculine or not,” he says. As the appreciation of the sharply cut suit has slipped from the business world into the urban style vernacular, a new fan base has developed for his out-there tailoring – rapper and style pioneer Kanye West was prominent in the audience of his Autumn/ Winter 2011-12 show.
ar from mellowing with age, Van Beirendonck finds that his expanding technical experience has delivered him more creative freedom: “With more maturity you know how to achieve results,” he says. “Once you have skills and maturity you can work in all different directions – I like not to be pinned to one thing.” The exhibition at MoMu will feature various pop-world collaborations, including the costumes that he made for U2’s 1997 PopMart tour, together with displays on key themes in Van Beirendonck’s career, including technology, sex, political graphics, space fantasy and avatars. “Fashion is about projecting an identity and fantasy,” he explains. “It’s a private world that you create around yourself.” Given the exuberance of his catwalk shows – his last featured models dressed in vast clouds of whorled chiffon, including one in the shape of a giant pink phallus – it’s hard to imagine that the exhibition is going to be anything less than a fully immersive fantastic Walter World. Kind of like a future fashion Disneyland, just with more penises.
SEPTEMBER 22 - OCTOBER 6 2011
5 FAB WALTER FACTS 1. BEGINNINGS
Born in 1957 in Brecht, Belgium, he has been designing his own collections since 1983. 2. PET
He had an English Bull Terrier called Sado that regularly appeared in publicity shots, and inspired him to propose a fragrance called Sadeau de Parfum. 3. ICON
The mascot of W< was a character called Puk-Puk, based on the crocodile man of the Iatmul of Papua New Guinea. 4. HE BEARS
For his Wonde® show in 2010 he conducted a website casting for Bears among the global gay community and ended the show with 33 big hairy men walking down the catwalk in socks, shoes and snugly-fitted underpants. 5. BIG BEARS
His WALTERstore in Antwerp has an eight-metre-long sleeping bear sculpture as one of its display stands. It’s available to buy for €30,000, transport not included.
Walter Van Beirendonck: Dream the World Awake. September 14 2011 to February 19 2012, MoMu, 28 Nationalestraat, Antwerp, 03.470.27.70, www.momu.be
Shagg y oversized coat from the 20112012 Autumn/ Winter collection, Hand on Heart
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A shopper’s guide to Antwerp Whether you are looking for vintage, designer labels, avant-garde or high street, Antwerp is a shopper’s paradise by stephanie duval photos by dieter tielemans
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SEPTEMBER 22 - OCTOBER 6 2011
Antwerp for glamour-seekers
STYLISH SLEEPS LES NUITS is a swanky hotel
perched on top of equally fancy furniture and interior design store Flamant. Some rooms have open bathrooms, all are beautifully decorated and come stocked with Kiehl’s cosmetics. Hotel Les Nuits, 12 Lange Gasthuisstraat, tel 03.225.02.04 www.hotellesnuits.be FANCY FOOD & DRINK
Antwerp’s lucky enough to have not one but two places to get the perfect cocktail. COCKTAILS AT NINE lies in the shadow of the magnificent cathedral and has a cool, speakeasy vibe, while glamorous SIPS makes delicious cocktails with fresh ingredients and premium brands. Cocktails at Nine, 9 Lijnwaadmarkt, tel 03.707.10.07 www.cocktailsatnine.be Sips, 8 Gillisplaats, www.sips-cocktails.com
Shop window on the Meir This page, from top clockwise m Ko ed ie pl aa ts
The Stadsfeestzaal shopping centre; Antwerp’s busiest shopping street, the Meir; items on display at Graanmarkt 13
If you want to get as much shopping done in one day as is humanly possible, it’s best to start at the Stadsfeestzaal shopping centre. The building itself is a sight to behold: a former city exhibition hall constructed in glass and steel, with a gilded interior and marble staircase. It also features a rather nice floating champagne bar and futuristic-looking bistro should you need to stop for a rest. It is right between Meir, the high street where you’ll find all the bigname retailers as well as some of the more interesting chains such as Cos, Esprit and Urban Outfitters, and chic shopping street Hopland. From the latter, you will be in the ideal position to check out Donum, a design and interiors store complete with in-house style architects who are on hand to help you replicate that showroom look at home. Continue down Hopland, straight into the Schuttershofstraat, where you will discover some of the fanciest boutiques in Antwerp. It’s the home of Gucci, Burberry and Hermés as well as Belgian brands Delvaux and Natan. Schuttershofstraat is also Antwerp’s shoe central, as it is home to not one but two Coccodrillo’s (one of the most famous designer shoe shops in the world), Suela and a branch of Jimmy Choo. Make one more stop at the flagship men’s store of Antwerp-based label Essentiel, where you can find the brand’s entire colourful collection and score original gifts for him, before you head on to the Graanmarkt. This plaza – too often overlooked – houses the elegant Graanmarkt 13, a five-storey townhouse that serves as a restaurant, designer clothes shop and gallery. Just round the corner, the store’s owners have also opened a small but beautiful boutique for Santa Maria Novella, the famous Italian cosmetics brand that sells the best patchouli in the world.
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Antwerp for the fashion-forward
If you’re looking for a bed & breakfast that offers something a little bit more, ROOM NATIONAL is the place to be. With only three rooms, which feel more like mini apartments – luxurious and warm – you’re guaranteed a personal experience. Room National Bed & Breakfast 24 Nationalestraat, tel 0475.23.47.03 www.roomnational.be
Nationalestraat is where Antwerp’s fashion heart beats, and the ModeNatie is its pacemaker. The building houses MoMu, the Flanders Fashion Institute, the Royal Academy of Antwerp’s fashion department and Copyright, a bookshop filled with all things design. The Nationalestraat is also home to Het Modepalais, Dries Van Noten’s flagship boutique. From there turn onto Sint-Antoniusstraat, where you will discover Walter Van Beirendonck’s eponymous concept store, which sells not only his work, but also that of his partner Dirk Van Saene as well as upcoming Belgian talent. If vintage fashion is more your thing, head straight to Jutka & Riska, or for cut-price couture go to Labels Inc, where you can pick up past season and ex-display stock bargains. For the most exclusive designerwear in the city, step into Sien. Set up by ex-Academy student Marie-Josine van de Water, it provides a home for international collections such as Givenchy and Proenza Schouler. Or head to nearby multibrand store Renaissance and browse through the elegant racks filled with Carven, Markus Lupfer and Viktor & Rolf.
TRENDY FOOD & DRINK
As well as being one of the best shops in town, RENAISSANCE also has an Italian fine dining restaurant. If you want a good cup of coffee, DE DIKKE KAT (The Fat Cat) opened this month and serves up exhibitions alongside its coffee and chocolate cake. Renaissance, 28-32 Nationalestraat, tel 03.369.01.08 www.renaissance-antwerp.com De Dikke Kat, 26 Kasteelpleinstraat www.dedikkekat.be Top left to right
Marie-Josine van de Water’s trendsetting boutique Sien; Antwerp railway station
ELSEWHERE IN ANTWERP
You may want to pop over to the Provincial Museum of Photography (FoMu) to admire photography legend PETER LINDBERGH ’s celebrity portraits and Belgian FRANK PHILIPPI’s postwar photography oeuvre from October 15 to January 29. www.fomu.be The Fashion Museum (MoMu, www.momu.be), where the WALTER VAN BEIRENDONCK
retrospective takes place (see page 54 for full story), and FoMu are also collaborating on a dazzling exhibition about New York ‘Fashion and Art’ magazine VISIONAIRE. But whatever you do, do take time to ride all the escalators in Antwerp’s newest addition to its cultural scene: the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom, pictured below; www.mas.be). The view from the rooftop terrace is free and offers a breathtaking bird’s-eye view of the city. The exhibitions are worth visiting too.
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SEPTEMBER 22 - OCTOBER 6 2011
Hipsters having trouble finding a cool place to sleep – because hotels feel to big and bed & breakfasts too small – should head over to SOUL SUITES. The apartments available for short-term rent are spacious, decorated with vintage design and each has its own character. Free wifi is included, so you’ll be able to tweet about your stay. Soul Suites, 14 Marnixplaats, tel 04220.127.116.11 www.soulsuites.com
Antwerp for hipsters
GETTING TO ANTWERP FROM BRUSSELS
HOT FOOD & DRINK
Looking for quirky vintage and antique shops? Go straight to Kloosterstraat. Our favourites there are Viar, Hot & Cold/New & Old and retro design heaven Fiftie-Fiftie. Kloosterstraat is also whereAntwerp’s best concept stores are hiding. Quite literally, in the case of Ra13. It’s a huge shop – as the name suggests, at number 13 – but you’d easily walk past it, so unassuming is the front. But inside lies a wonderland of avantgarde; there’s also a bistro out front where you can have lunch and in the evenings it holds weekly dinner parties. Concept store Your is slightly easier to spot at number 90 and it’s a one-stop shop for everything from crazy gadgets and cool gift ideas to affordable brands and even haircuts.
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Several trains leave from Brussels (Central and South stations) to Antwerp every hour. Some take longer than others, so make sure yours is an express train (IC), which will get you to Antwerp Central Station in about 40 minutes.
• Taking the A12 into Antwerp’s centre (exit Antwerpen Centrum) will take you right under the new Court of Justice, straight onto the city’s beautiful boulevard ‘de Leien’. • If you take the E19, the best way to enter Antwerp is also to head south, so when you pass through the Craeybeckxtunnel, enter the R1 by following Ring Antwerpen and take exit 5a (Het Zuid/AntwerpenCentrum). You can park your car in one of Antwerp’s many car parks or you can try and find a free spot on the Zuiderdokken (by the Vlaamse Kaai and Waalse Kaai). This page, from top clockwise
A favourite among fishionados and hipsters alike, FISKEBAR on the trendy Marnixplaats is always busy, so book in advance. Or you could try sister restaurant Fisketapas for a less formal bite to eat. During the day, hang out with creatives at the New York-inspired CAFFE INTERNAZIONALE , or indulge in a bit of people-watching at nearby VITRIN. Fiskebar, 12-13 Marnixplaats, tel 03.257.13.57, www.fiskebar.be Caffé Internazionale, 21 Volkstraat, www. caffeinternazionale.be Vitrin, 14 Marnixplaats www.vitrin.eu
Shopping in Antwerp; view from the Vitrine bar on Marnixplaats; a display from Ra13
More travel guides on www.thebulletin.be
90 LIFESTYLE & COMMUNITY
CAPITAL LIFE Your city, your agenda Singer-songwriter Desta Hailé, 26, was born in Thailand to a British mother and Eritrean father. She has lived in Brussels for nine years For how long have you been a musician? I started when I was 17, thanks to the Bulletin, actually! I found my first guitar teacher in the Bulletin and he got me my first producer. Later, I became a backing singer for Zap Mama, Baloji, Michael Bublé and many others.
My diary THURSDAY SEPTEMBER
Have you released any solo work?Yes! I’ve recorded three solo EPs and an album with my band, The Elements. Right now I also perform with DJs or as a duo with Belgian-Colombian guitarist Yovanny Adant. What brought you to Brussels? My parents used to work for the UN so we lived all over – Thailand, Barbados, Jordan, Côte d’Ivoire. When my mother was posted to Brussels, I eventually joined her. And why have you stayed? I love to travel so I often spend time abroad, but Brussels is a good base – it’s so international. I also have many friends here.
What else do you like about Brussels? I love languages – I speak about seven languages – and here you always get a chance to practise. I recently met a Bulgarian and within the space of 20 minutes we spoke in French, English, Portuguese and Turkish – where else in the world would that happen? What do you like to do in your spare time? I love to write. I also work as a freelance copywriter and language teacher , and I read a lot. But my free time pretty much revolves around good food, good coffee and of course, good music.
A cool bar where there are gigs every Thursday. 174 Chaussée de Charleroi www.sisisi.eu
Great postcards and posters. Might also buy a new notepad. 50 Rue des Éperonniers www.plaizier.be
IMPERIAL TIGER ORCHESTRA FT BETHELEM DAGNACHEW
My favourite shop. Here I get my favourite African fabrics made into beautiful dresses or I buy off the rack. 31 Rue Malibran www.wakeupstore.be
Fantastic Ethiopian jazz band from Geneva playing at Bar du Matin. 172 Chaussée d’Alsemberg bardumatin.blogspot.com
LAID BACK RADIO
I love Thai food and this place is great, especially the yam woon sen (spicy noodle salad) and ho mok pla (steamed curry fish). 135 Avenue d’Auderghem 02.649.43.66
Ethiopian coffee house – a nice place to chill out after a busy weekend. 140 Rue Haute www.aksumcoffeehouse.com
Working on a music project with the coolest radio station around. www.laid-back.be
Pick up some fresh fruit and veg, plus some good Colombian coffee. Place du Châtelain