Monday, October 24, 2011

You never really know a city

The coolest thing about cities is the endless discovery options. I love the countryside (I've had my fair share of catching grashoppers and digging ponds), but someday I'd like to live in a city where you can easily go to a different bar or restaurant every day of the year, year after year, without reruns. I'd probably be overwhelmed by the choice and end up staying in every night, watching Twilight twice a week to connect with my angsty inner self (just the first one though, the others suck*), but still!

Brussels it's cool, but it's not up there with Berlin, Paris or London. I don't want to pretend I know Brussels through and through - I don't, really, there's neighbourhoods I've never even walked in. I do think I know the Dansaert area pretty well, however. I went to high school there, met up with friends many a time for drinks, eating and random stupidities and now I work just around the corner. And yet, even though I drank my first cosmopolitan (and many after that) in a great bar in the Rue des Chartreux/Kartuizersstraat, I somehow managed to completely neglect a cuter than cute store right at the end of it.

I'm talking about Valérie Berckmans' shop in the Rue Van Artevelde/Arteveldestraat, which I only discovered because the window display caught my eye when I accidentally got off the bus there. It's simple, minimalistic and colourful at the same time. This photo from Zone02 paints a clear picture:

The white cabinet you see is chock-full of shoes and accessories like gloves, buttons and clutches by Michael Guérisse O'Leary. The clutches especially were remarkable - colourful and refined, handmade apparently, but really not that expensive. 85 euros I think? Still a lot of money to most people, but considering the quality, it's a bargain. The buttons were nice, too, with original designs. They were priced between 4-12 euros.

As for the clothes, they feel like a grown up version of the Who's That Girl-style. Less crazy patterns, but the same casual retro feel. Simple, clear cuts; nice materials. They all felt very natural, my guess is you won't find anything too synthetic here. The prices were a bit steep, but some items were on sale and the discounts were great. Definitely inspiration material, even for those who can't afford it. By the way, you have to ring the bell to get in. Sounds a little snobby, but the owner is really nice and helpful, from what I witnessed. And for those who don't really care for Brussels or never get around to it: when I checked the website, I noticed that Twiggy in Gent, which I blogged about here, sells Valérie Berckmans' clothing as well.

Didn't buy anything but I'll probably go back for some buttons - they make the perfect little gift!

*(Okay, the first one sucks too, but you've got to give me something!)

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