Brussels Sprouts

The once drab Belgian capital blossoms into an international contender.

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Special Issue
WWD Scoop issue 09/29/2008
“The most attractive part about Brussels is the quality of life due to the amount of green forest that surrounds the entire city,” notes designer Stephen Fairchild, who commutes to Amsterdam as creative director of Mexx, but has called Brussels home for the last eight years. “The quality of real estate for value is extraordinary. The outsides of buildings are not attractive, but the insides are spectacular. Once you get to know the ins and outs of Brussels, it’s a very hip city.”

Fairchild also lauds the international mix in Brussels, where it is estimated that up to a quarter of the one million inhabitants are foreigners. While French is the official language, a visitor is just as likely to hear Dutch, English or Arabic in the streets—and perhaps some lively debate about ongoing tensions between the Flemish and French communities. While the politics are complicated, the multicultural muddle that is Brussels adds to the city’s dynamism and creative edge.

Belgians have a renowned flair for fashion, and are upping the ante when it comes to home and industrial design, as well. For example, Baden Baden, a boutique devoted to kitchens and bathrooms, is a labyrinth of tasty decor possibilities, all in subtle tones of gray and brown. And a stroll down Rue Haut will reveal a wealth of great antique shops…and Easy Tempo for pizza and antipasti when you need a shopping break.

Theyskens laments that he doesn’t get back to Brussels much, but he always makes a point of dining at La Meilleure Jeunesse, a cozy, bordellolike bistro with its rickety, mismatched furniture, artsy photos and laid-back atmosphere that also permeates and defines the city.

See Brussels Listings.
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