FASHION IS ALIVE! #AFF15
As you could read in the previous This Is Antwerp blogpost, I was invited (and so were you) to Antwerp's annual Fashion Festival! Better known as #AFF15, this year went down as the year the festival took on an extra day. So what did that extra third day mean? More fashion, duh. Here's my personal report on the three day extravaganza!
Friday kicked off with the sold-out #AFF15 multi-brand fashion show at the Ampère venue located under Antwerp's Central Station. Very cool setting. The show ran late but drinks were pouring and so the fun couldn't be stopped. Jasmijn Verlinden of Flanders Fashion Institute opened the show with some food for thought. Why is it we all have this collective feeling of unity in Belgium for let's say our National Football Team, but not for our designers? And so FFI launched their #IkKoopBelgisch (#IBuyBelgian) campaign, which I totally support! Antwerp is a breeding ground of talent thanks to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and it's Fashion Department. Besides the upcoming talent, a lot of exciting things are happening thanks to young entrepreneurs and store owners. Take Veronique Leysen's Maurice knitwear label for instance. A knitwear label with it's own coffee bar! Maurice Coffee & Knits kicked off #AFF15 earlier in the day with a before-work party which I was sadly unable to attend. According to my sources, it was a mega success and more before-work parties will take place at Maurice soon. #YAY
I didn't stay around for drinks after the fashion show but headed straight home as I was taking part in the Saturday Late Night Shopping myself.
It might just be me and I do love a good fashion show, but Saturday was THE day to attend if you ask me. At around 2 PM the excitement was already up in the air when DJ-booths, drinks and hors d'oeuvres started popping up all around Antwerp city. Despite the gloomy weather, I saw a lot of glowy faces! After working myself until about 8 PM I headed out to score a party outfit for the after-party. I got lucky at H&M's upscale sister COS in de Korte Gasthuisstraat, where I scored a beautiful silk shirt and a scarf. Oh and I got an #AFF15 discount! Across the street I found myself attracted to the entire Arabesque Wood range from &Other Stories, another H&M family member. I left with the handsoap, bodywash and body mist. Not very #IbuyBelgian of me to buy at the mega Scandinavian retailers but hey, I made up for it...
I continued my route at the Enes store, where I'd be totally down with the yellow metallic dress on display, if I was a girl that is. I'm not, so I guess I'll just project the years of looking at women's fashion onto my future daughter. That's going to be a well-dressed child, let me tell you now. I then popped into Essentiel where I was treated to a custom Cointreau Fizz Cocktail. I didn't have any dinner so the yummy stuff quickly got to my head and had me almost maxing out my credit card on the major F/W accessories and faux-fur coats. From Essentiel I headed to Manou@Oever28 near the Kloostersstraat, where I immediately added about 8 items to my wish-board on Pinterest. The ceramics and knitwear kept coming from everywhere. The store looks very small, which it is, but the place completely folds open like a box! It's so fun to open up loads of drawers and hidden compartments. You never know what to expect here but it's always great. Loads of fun!
A quick shower and three spritzes of my new bodymist later I was off to the Magic club, underneath the Ramada Plaza Hotel, for the #AFF15 After-Party. The DJ played Stardust's “Music Sounds Better With You” and boy oh boy,I was in disco heaven! Slight note of complaint, I feel like some gentlemen in the house could've made some more effort. The ladies did their part but some of the men in attendance made no effort whatsoever. Luckily there were a few gentlemen around who did get the memo. #Fashionistos
Somehow an #AFF15 insider also got me on the guestlist for another party on Saturday night, back at the Ampère club I was the night before. Overnight it had been transformed into a literally underground rave-like club. It did strike me during the night that it's actually kind of weird to party underneath a railway station.
I woke up the next morning feeling somewhat tired. A nice slow breakfast later I hit a few shops again. More stores open then the night before, as it was also a regular Shopping Sunday. I was very happy to discover that one of my favorite vintage stores, Episode, had finally found its way back to Antwerp city! And in that moment it hit me that my tiredness had completely disappeared. It may sound superficial but I believe it was because of the clothes. I felt energized!
Fashion is alive y'all! So alive! Thank you #AFF15 for curing my Sunday-coma with some retail therapy. Can the extra day stay for next time pretty please? I guess we'll find out next year, see you then!
Text by Laurent James - @iamlaurentjames
Pics by Laurent James and Antwerp Fashion Festival