The Story of My Delvaux Bag from Belgium

Antwerp, a city that effortlessly exudes stylishness beyond compare, presents an architectural canvas so distinct from Paris or any other European city. The boutiques and hotels speak volumes of elegance, unrivalled in their allure. Among the myriad of designers who imprint their creativity across the city, there is one particular gentleman, Axel Vervoordt, whose architecture, designs and books have not only captured my imagination but also emotionally inspired me.


This city's roots extend back to the 4th century, boasting a history rich with milestones, including the accolade of being the birthplace of the world's first newspaper four centuries ago. Stepping out of the station, one is greeted by facades that instantly electrify the senses, a promise of the cultural and historical riches that lie within. Antwerp, famed for its diamond district, trades nearly 90% of the world's rough diamonds, crowning it as a global diamond epicentre. Its shops, styled with remarkable independence, add to the city's unique charm.


A mere train ride away from Brussels, one finds oneself in the Grand Place, the phenomenal heart of the city. Reflecting on a quintessentially British experience, I recall a visit to the exquisite Delvaux shop back when I was at the start of my career, earning a modest wage. Mesmerised by the elegance of the shop, I became enchanted with a handbag that I really wanted to buy. The shop attendant was the epitome of good customer service, something that I emulate in my own boutique today. Packaging my delightful bag, she placed it first into a soft cloth drawstring bag with tassels, then into a very grand box lined with lots of fine tissue paper and lastly into a large, well made bag. It all looked rather spectacular and then I was presented with the bill — 60,000 Belgian Francs, equal to my entire monthly wage. True to British form, I couldn’t possibly now decline the purchase or say anything (although, I nearly fainted). I resigned myself to a month of pasta and baked beans, a decision I have never regretted. The bag is now valued at £25,000 and has become an archival treasure.


The Grand Place is also home to fabulous restaurants. There, I enjoyed what remains to this day the most delicious meal of my life. Seated on a bench at a rustic wooden table, I was served a cauldron containing a sumptuous lobster, alongside lobster bisque, a fresh baguette, and a carafe of wine — a feast I will never forget.


As for Belgian chocolates, they are divine, the pinnacle of confectionery bliss. Pierre Marcolini stands out as a master chocolatier, his fame now global, with his creations gracing London's Marylebone High Street. The excellence of Belgian chocolates is one of my guilty secrets.