La Gantoise

I grew up in a beautiful, provincial town in Belgium called Destelbergen. Only fifteen minutes outside of Ghent, Destelbergen is best known for its numerous residential castles, thick forests, ponds with swans and its simple, quiet life. We moved to Destelbergen right when my sister Evelien was born, in 1980 and my parents have lived in the same house ever since, albeit a little bit more comfortably and peacefully since their two handfuls flew the nest and settled in New York…

Evelien and I both went to school in the city of Ghent, a grand, medieval town built at the confluence of two rivers in the Flemish region of Belgium. Ghent’s magnificent skyline is proof of its historical affluence and economic importance in Northern Europe. A Cathedral, a Church and the Belfry towers are on view in one line and walking distance of each other. I am very proud of my home town and I get a little offended when tourists tell me they never visited Ghent while they were in Belgium. Somehow people always go to Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp, but skip Ghent, while it is situated right in the middle of the triangle, and to be quite honest, combines all the appealing elements of those three cities. And hello! We have the world famous ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’ by Van Eyck AND The Gentse Feesten!!

I go home about three times a year, twice when I travel to Europe for the women’s collections and also during the summer holidays. This past October, after Paris Fashion Week I was in Ghent for a week. The weather was still soft and agreeable and I needed some therapeutic bordeom after a month of fashion craziness. And it was about time for a vintage tour of the city where it all began…..

When I was growing up there were only one or two vintage stores in Ghent. My dad especially didn’t allow us to wear second hand clothes. It was kind of frowned and looked down upon. Today, the number of vintage and consignment stores in Ghent has quadrupled and the supply, quality and presentation has become much more creative and involved. Belgium has definitely caught up with the rising vintage trend.

Eighteen-year old Chavelli Inghels had just walked her very first runway show in New York, under an exclusive contract for Calvin Klein. Though still in school – she’s in her junior year, studying Law at the University of Ghent – Chavelli is a rising star and will take another shot at runway this February, when she’ll be doing the endless casting circuit. While we were shopping and dressing up Chavelli told me she doesn’t really go shopping that much. “I think I’m just too lazy,” she admits. “I rarely try vintage clothes because you never know what size it really is and it rarely fits. I’m much more into the accessories and handbags.” But to her surprise she discovered a lot of stores she didn’t know existed before so maybe I have sparked her interest a little bit….

I wonder if the Tourist Office will reward me for making such a devoted case for Ghent….

January 13, 2011

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8 Responses to “La Gantoise”

  1. avatar

    She is adorable! I love all the looks, every last one of them! Oh Natalie, I wish you didn't make me wait so long for posts like these. Sheer torture! 🙂


  2. avatar

    She is such a natural beauty, stunning, everything looks perfect on her. I hope to visit Europe one day. 🙂

  3. avatar

    You mentioned the Gentse Feesten in your post…
    here's the dates for the next decenium:

    Data Gentse Feesten
    2011: 16 – 25 juli 2011
    2012: 14 – 23 juli 2012
    2013: 20 – 29 juli 2013
    2014: 19 – 28 juli 2014
    2015: 18 – 27 juli 2015
    2016: 16 – 25 juli 2016
    2017: 15 – 24 juli 2017
    2018: 14 – 23 juli 2018
    2019: 20 – 29 juli 2019
    2020: 18 – 27 juli 2020


  4. avatar

    hi 🙂 I'm your newest follower 🙂 I stumbled upon your blog in calvintage's site 🙂 I love how one entry contained so many outfit posts of you wearing hats!

  5. avatar
    Maya Mirsky - Reply

    I absolutely adore Ghent! I went there as a tourist – oh, many years ago – and fell in love. Beautiful, charming, and excellent public art (at least at that time). I've always wanted to go back.

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