Brussels In Style

December 14, 2015 • BrusselsStyle

over the years i’ve found that traveling is the best source of inspiration. discovering a city is much like triggering different aspects of your personality, and it often offers new perspectives on what you think you know. sometimes it reinforces a feeling that you have – something in your gut that you couldn’t quite put to words yet. traveling to cities all over the world has taught me a lot about the subjects that i’m interested in. entrepreneurialism, food, culture, design… and fashion. i’ve found that certain places can embody and demonstrate a certain style. it’s in the mix of people walking on the streets and the shops lining them. it’s why i feel right at home in certain neighborhoods, and like a fish out of the water in others.

though i’ve had endless conversations with people about brussels and how i just don’t ‘get’ the city, there’s one place in the city where i feel great and like i could actually live there. it’s a little corner in ixelles – though i could make an argument for the entirety of ixelles – around the place brugmann. the streets are lined with trees, stately mansions and beautiful little shops, restaurants and cafés. if i’d have to compare it to another place in the world that i love, it would be to the upper east side in new york.

believe me when i say that it’s taken me a few years to accept that these kinds of neighborhoods are the ones i most identify with. like many other twenty-somethings i wanted to believe that i’d feel more at home in the grittier places, where creativity could run freely and wouldn’t be restricted by rules or convention. in reality though, i love structure, cleanliness and peace and quiet. perhaps life in switzerland has changed me? but more probably it just confronted me with what was already there.

it took me a while to reconcile my hunger for creativity and out-of-the-box thinking with my penchant for a certain kind of luxury. for the longest time, it seemed like they couldn’t co-exist, and i was always torn between the two. first moving to switzerland certainly didn’t help – if ever there was a bastion of money without creativity, its name is geneva. it took five years before the third wave coffee trend first set foot in the city, and currently the founder of geneva’s first co-working initiative (which is really more like an office-for-hire service to be honest) is heralded as a visionary. insert all the rolling eyes emojis here please.

discovering that little neighborhood in ixelles, however, proved to me that it is possible. take one look at the people walking down the streets, and you’ll know that most who live around there are well-off. i don’t even want to guess the prices of real estate in the streets surrounding the place brugmann. but for all the money that is gathered in this little neighborhood, a lot of it is spent at small businesses and with inventive, cool entrepreneurs. there’s not a chanel flagship in sight – instead you’ll see small, independently owned boutiques in which the shop owner carefully curates a great selection of goods. true – none of them are cheap, but what they do have in common, is how they favor quality over bling-bling labels.

i’ve introduced you to my favorite clothing boutique KELLY before, and it is a really great example of the neighborhood’s vibe. it’s a place where you’ll find lesser known brands that are timeless and that put quality over everything else. a place where the service is amazing and the shop owner is deeply involved – something you can feel in every little detail. on my last visit there, the lovely ladies in the shop helped me put together two outfits that, at least to me, really represent the style of the neighborhood – timeless, understated, comfortable and classy. i wanted to share these outfits with you because they show rather than tell what this post is all about. you’ll find the credits of the items i’m wearing below, but everything can be found at KELLY.

lastly, i wanted to share some of my favorite places around the neighborhood, so that if you ever go shopping at kelly, you can do as i did and make a day out of it. start with a fresh juice or coffee at ICI, either inside (love that tiled floor!) or on the cozy terrace. head over to the other side of the street to pay a visit to LUCIA ESTEVES – a great place to score beautiful interior decoration. make sure to drop by la forêt by lucia esteves, too – a brand new store concept where you’ll find anything you ever needed (or didn’t know you wanted) to dress up your table. honestly, this place is like heaven! for lunch, either head over to american diner icon LE BALMORAL for burgers, or to GAUDRON for a more refined bite to eat. next to the latter you’ll find an excellent book store, LIBRAIRIE CANDIDE. and if you’re there around happy hour, go to WINERY for a glass of vino.

and now i’m curious – do you identify with this kind of neighborhood, too? or does your style translate to an entirely different kind of vibe? where do you feel most at home?

first outfit – poncho by vince + tee by majestic + pants by notify + shoes by kelly (their own brand) // second outfit – coat by harris wharf london + sweater by stefan green + pants by notify + shoes by anthology // photos by matthias rabaey

Elisabeth’s Brussels

September 25, 2015 • BrusselsFood and DrinkTravel

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last week i had the honor to host a delightful bloggertour around brussels for ELISABETH CHOCOLATIER. you guys might remember i hosted another workshop for them earlier this year – which was such a blast, i had been looking forward to the sequel ever since we made plans for it. the wonderful joyce from JUST LIKE SUSHI, carrie from WISHWISHWISH, céline from MILUCCIA and oliva from WHAT OLIVIA DID joined us for two days filled with fun and sweets.

our tour started at the beautiful HAPPY GUESTHOUSE, where we had some time for tea, coffee and chocolates. we then explored the four different elisabeth shops around the grand place in the center of brussels. i’ve mentioned this before, but i just can’t get over how stylish and modern these shops look compared to the other stores in the neighborhood. there’s none of that tourist-trap vibe, just great design and amazing sweets made by local artisans. every shop has its specialty, so if you’re ever around the area, make sure you visit all four to get a good idea of what elisabeth is all about.

afterwards, we had a fun chat with the lovely owner of THE GAME design store, a glass of pink champagne in the pop-up boutique of DE GREEF, which used elisabeth sweets in their fall campaign. then it was time to head over to LES FILLES. we had lunch at one of their cozy communal tables, and later headed upstairs for dessert. we were challenged to create our own creative versions of three desserts using elisabeth products and we didn’t leave the premises until we were positively stuffed.

after lunch we made the trek out to the gorgeous HELLO JAMES shop, where te owners gave us a little tour of their basement workshop and sent us home with some beautiful handmade leather accessories. a quick touch-up of our make-up was added to the program when we passed by COSMETICARY, where jean used the bobbi brown magic on us. we left all ready for our dinner plans at COMPTOIR DES GALERIES – the beautiful restaurant of the hotel des galeries (more on that later!)

the next day we headed uptown to spend some time in my favorite neighborhood around the place brugmann, and i finally got to have lunch at ICI – i’ve only been waiting for that moment ever since it opened. it was such a fun experience meeting these amazing bloggers from france, the netherlands and the uk and showing them around some true gems in brussels. it reminded me i don’t spend nearly enough time in the capital of belgium, and i need to change that, stat. hopefully this little tour will have inspired you to do the same (and definitely say hi to the great team of elisabeth for me!)

photos by stephanie duval


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my name is stephanie duval, and i am a storyteller. this blog is where i share my favorite stories about design, travel, fashion and the nice things in life.


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