RA Revisited

RA Revisited

When I was eighteen most teens my age would want to go and "have a large one" out in Bangkok/Corfu/Magaluf (delete according to preference and budget).  I wanted to take the Eurostar to Antwerp and see the birthplace of the "Antwerp Six", wander around looking at old glove shops and chocolatiers and stay in a "hip" bed and breakfast that didn't resemble the musty houses that my parents took me to when we traisped up and down England.  More than anything else, I wanted to go alone.  It wasn't a romatic getaway, a work trip or even a holiday.  It was my sort of brain nourishment away from the noise of London and completely without the pressure to "have fun".  I'd consider that partial portion of my student loan, money well spent.  My first trip to Antwerp immediately got me hooked on making this fashion-related pilgrimage to this small little city on a regular basis, something which you might have read about if you're very VERY early Style Bubble readers.  I've now been to Antwerp about six or seven times and frankly I never tire of it, even when the streets seem smaller and smaller or when every destination shop or museum has been walked over multiple times. 

Antwerp and I were reunited once again on Saturday, as I was asked to speak at The Blog Works, a blogging workshop organised by Marie Lema√Ætre and Stephanie Duval aimed at Belgian bloggers (all fields, not just fashion).  The trip gave me an opportunity to go to my very own happy place – RA.  It's no coincidence that two of my top mind blowing retail experiences happen to both be in Antwerp.  The first was the Walter van Beirendonck store on St.Antoniusstraat, which closed six months ago due to a rent hike.  Pah!  Oh all the bloody things to close a store!  Walter van Beirendonck has re-opened on Komedieplaats but it's never going to be the same thing as walking into a surreal dream space with a giant teddy bear and a conveyor belt inside it.  The second mind blowing store experience is thankfully very much alive.  In fact, RA has expanded to a second Paris location in addition to their original Antwerp store and since my initial visit, has added a RA Kitchen.  You can now conceivably wile away hours inside RA, which is exactly what I did on Saturday because it happened to be the coldest day of the year.  Plus, they had the Christmas spirit going on with a general market selling gifts, trinkets and pressies RA-style.  

Yes, you can coo and ooh at the indulgent interior with its kooky thatched cottage and rooftop garden but it's the selection that still has me slayed.  If there was a store that was a pretty decent match to my wardrobe minus my addiction to Topshop, COS and Whistles, RA would be it.  The labels which are stocked are broad in their taste range with the common factor being that everything feels unique in its own style sphere.  It's where I can indulge in all of my sartorial predilections.I'd go for Meadham Kirchhoff or Louise Gray for clothes that I'm drawn to whatever the occasion.  I'd go to Jenny Fax or Mikio Sakabe if I'm feeling like a spot of Japanese subversive kawaii.  There's a vintage section with everything from 1930s tea dresses to early 90s Issey Miyake Pleats Please to plug that hole whenever I think my wardrobe is too "new" or "current".  Then you have labels like Toga, Creatures of the Wind, Sister by Sibling, Simone Rocha – the list goes on as they all happen to be the ones that get me excited season in season out.   Charlie Porter wrote a great piece on his blog about the age of FUN for our current decade.  If the nougties was about the democratisation of fashion, then it's time for permanent "FUN" to rule the twenty-tens.  Permanent fun is characterised by much of RA's selection and better yet, there's a "Everyone's Welcome" feeling that this kind of fun isn't just aimed at edged-out fashion-y types.  I loved the seeing the conservative-looking older couples upstairs rummaging through rails of Gareth Pugh.  

It turns out 2013 will be a big year for Antwerp as the famous Antwerp Royal Academy fashion school celebrate their 50th year with a bombastic graduate show, an exhibition at MOMU and more happening late next year.  No doubt then I'll be back for more fun-filled pilgrimages to the city.  

















Ra13(From top to bottom left to right: Depression rainbow shirt, Anna October iridescent dress, Jenny Fax sparkle bomber, Simone Rocha silver clutch, Creatures of the Wind embroidered shirt, Louise Gray radiowave trousers, Sister by Sibling flower jumper, Swash floral trousers, Toga skirt over trouser combo, Meadham Kirchhof silk shirt, Sibling x Underground leopard creepers, Simone Rocha perspex heeled brogues, Meadham Kirchhoff teddy bag, Niels Peeraer leather rucksack)


Leave a comment
  1. Miss Coco

    2012-12-10 at 9:55 PM

    I want it all!

  2. Kasia

    2012-12-10 at 10:32 PM

    I rally love backpacks but Niels Peeraer’s is amazing !!

  3. saigon

    2012-12-10 at 11:07 PM

    just you travevl far away from the bustle. it?s heavenly to just goaway alone and enjoy the freedom, without anyone breathing over your neck.
    and even to enjoy in something new in fashion

  4. fashiondacci

    2012-12-11 at 1:51 AM

    thank you so much for sharing!!! love reading your words!!! and i know more shops now!!!!

  5. Krystalle

    2012-12-11 at 3:49 AM

    Ah, nice to see a spot of Singaporean fashion represented by Depression on the rails of a Belgian fashion institution!

  6. beka nicole

    2012-12-11 at 4:54 AM

    love all of these photos:)

  7. The Provoker

    2012-12-11 at 6:05 AM

    Love the store layout, very cute and they actually have some great pieces. Omg the simone shoes are soooo nice but so expensive… So sad I missed the sale. I’ve just posted up a new outfit post of me wearing a furry Muppet coat, it’s sort of a statement/comment on the whole Elmo sex scandal (that sounded so weird lol), tell what you think 😉
    xx The Provoker

  8. get more followers twitter 

    2012-12-11 at 6:34 AM

    Nice Collections I saw here!! I would like to thank you for sharing this!! Love it!!Keep it up!!

  9. absolutelymrsk

    2012-12-11 at 6:56 AM

    I actually wanted to say to you ‘you should go to Ra’! but deep down inside I knew you were going to go to this store! it is like made for you. I am not a huge fan of antwerp, i am more of a brussels girl. don’t like the overall vibe in antwerp although it has a lot to offer when it comes too fashion. it is so true that ra welcomes you with open arms, but the first time i went there i was shocked, shocked about the prices! i know that high end brands are utterly expensive, but little did i know that unique designers were that expensive too. Not that I would not pay money for their garments, i just had to get used to it.

  10. charlotte

    2012-12-11 at 9:23 AM

    I Love Ra!!! I also took some cool pics when I was there and I could have stayed for a day!! http://reporter34.blogspot.nl/2012/04/ra.html

  11. Serdane

    2012-12-11 at 1:21 PM
  12. promo printing sydney

    2012-12-12 at 6:33 AM

    I reviewed this thingy for Arena: It’s great, but all the demo songs sound like Photek or someone & I have to confess that i struggled to make a tune that didn’t either.
    promo printing sydney

  13. Submariner

    2012-12-12 at 3:39 PM

    Nice Pictures. Makes me want to have some of these.. 🙂

  14. Gail

    2012-12-13 at 3:06 PM

    Thanks for the article. Never knew Antwerp was so exciting :0
    I guess I (wrongly supposed) it would be boring with not much to see. Want to go visit now.

  15. Sarah Fisher

    2012-12-15 at 7:17 PM

    I love RA so much Susie! I went there earlier on this year and bought the Meadham Kirchhoff s/s glitter platforms! Recently bought the issey miyake dress too! Would love you to come raid my wardrobe! xoxox

Leave a Comment