Perpetually eager to feed my wanderlust, this summer I packed my curiosity and took it to Antwerp, Belgium: home to cutting edge Belgian fashion, a trailblazing cult vintage scene, The Royal Academy (which produced the well-recognized Antwerp Six) and, of course, the Mode Museum (MOMU).

I planned for a quick rail layover en route from Bruges to Amsterdam, but ended up staying  a full day. A few, even a dozen, hours just aren’t enough in this noteworthy city tucked away nearly 45 minutes north of Brussels.

#NaviBleuTravels: Antwerp

#NaviBleuTravels: AntwerpHallo Antwerp!

I was delighted to hear that MOMU’s “Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers in Fashion” exhibit was presently live and running. It featured the works of many designers connected through a cohesive central theme; in this case, feathers. A tribute to the refined grace of ornate plumes and airy feathers, the display efficiently interpreted the elegance, charm and vitality of an otherwise underrated natural wonder. Used throughout history as accents, accessories, and even part of an entire silhouette, feathers bring the perfect mix of strength and delicacy. This fascinating exhibit showcased pieces by some of my most beloved sources of inspiration: Alexander McQueen, YSL, Louis Vuitton, Thierry Mugler, (vintage) Chanel, and so many more.

A little over rail travel at this point (having travelled to five countries via rail during this trip), I hailed a cab and asked to be dropped off in the heart of the city’s fashion district –within steps of the museum. Luckily for me it was a rainy Tuesday afternoon and I strolled right in. Upon entering the showcase, I already knew… this was going to be amazing.

#NaviBleuTravels: Antwerp

I fell utterly mad for the very first dress I came across and it quickly became clear why this particular piece by Thierry Mugler was chosen as the opening gown of this exhibition.  Featuring a grand-scale butterfly, hand-crafted by feathers, affixed into the open back of the dress. Every detail on this wonder was bursting with blooming energy.

Birds of Paradise: Thierry MuglerThierry Mugler Haute Couture S/S 1997. “…a link is created between the butterfly, woman and bird in a surreal creation that emphasizes the woman’s uniqueness and exotic nature. She herself is thus presented as a bird of paradise.” -Exhibit Guide

As I made my way through the ethereal showcase, my amazement seemed to increase with every step. These were not just pretty dresses; rather legitimate [thought-provoking] works of art. Every detail was immaculately executed. From peacock to ostrich, marabou, and chicken -feathers have never looked so winsome.

Picking a favorite out of these marvels is like picking a favorite vintage shop –simply senseless. One in particular that was in my top 3 was this enchantment by Rochas by Oliver Theysken. The complexity of this silk taffeta dress with dyed rooster feathers was realized in the most dreamlike of fashion.

Birds of Paradise: Rochas Rochas by Oliver Theyskens, A/W 2004 – 2005. 

The showpiece of this exhibition was Marlene Dietrich’s swan down coat. Designed by Jean Louis of Hollywood for Marlene Dietrich in 1957, this striking piece was created with the use of the feathers of 300 swans. Worn over a dress bearing 227,000 rhinestones, Marlene debuted this look at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas in 1957 and numerous times throughout the 1960’s.

Birds of Paradise: Dietrich Swan Coat

Having spent more than half of my time in Antwerp viewing this exhibit, I walked out of there all smiles. It was so worth it! Between the super helpful staff who, thankfully, spoke English effortlessly and their the brilliant curation of works, I cannot stress enough why the Mode Museum is a must see while touring Antwerp. Scope our many more amazing snaps of this exhibit HERE!

Till the next one!