Written by Annabell Van den Berghe Illustration by Marion Vitus
Elvis Pompilio takes us on a stroll down Sablon, the heart of antiques in Brussels. With its multitude of impressions it has become Elvis’s favourite part of town.
Back in the day, Sablon was little more than a sandy road, located outside the city walls. More recently the popularity of the area has grown with an influx of designers, artists, and antiquarians settling in and around the vivid central square.
“Sablon wakes up early in the morning and goes to sleep late at night. Start your day on the rhythm of Sablon and come before dawn to enjoy the beautiful view over the Notre Dame church and the park with its various statues shrouded in morning dew.
Meanwhile, take your time to enjoy a delicious breakfast at the world-renowned Wittamer. “Besides chocolates caressing all your senses, the coffee and croissants are splendid as well.”
Whilst sipping your coffee, dozens of merchants put up their stalls with antiques on the main square. This is the oldest antique market in Europe. “Since Belgium has always been a country full of wealthy people, antiques can be found at a cheaper price than anywhere else.”
Afterwards, walk from Sablon to Marolles along theRue Blaes, which is dotted with flea markets and curio shops. “The atmosphere is graceful. A mixture of international passers-by – among them hip youngsters and little old ladies having their afternoon tea – make this street extremely diverse and madness tolerant.”
For those who fancy Belgian specialities for lunch, “Au Vieux Saint-Martin is the perfect place”. They offer a day-to-day menu featuring Belgian ingredients selected with the greatest care. “Another place for lunch is Lola. Although they don’t specifically offer Belgian food, their cuisine is worth a try.”
Brussels’ weather is unpredictable – one moment it is sunny, another moment it is raining cats and dogs. But don’t let rain spoil your visit to the capital – see it as an opportunity to visit the Taschen bookstore on the corner of rue Lebeau. “The Philippe Starck shop interior is an experience in itself.”
And don’t forget to walk into Elvis Pompilio’s shop. With Elvis’s motto – “there is a hat for everyone” – you will be sure to find something suitable for everyday use, or for that special occasion.
Brussels’ cosmopolitan city caters for many tastes. “By passing through the artists’ district, the bourgeois or the fashion district, one can be deluded into thinking that you’re on holiday every day.”
Elvis Pompilio is a celebrated Belgian milliner with international fame. Inspired by his childhood and his own creative imagination, as well as his own creations, he has collaborated with Chanel, Dior, Valentino, and Hugo Boss. Some of his creations sit in permanent collections at the Musée Gravin and Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. “Twenty years ago, I had shops from London to Japan and from New York to Brussels. But every city has its own trends and style. It takes time to indulge in the fashion of one city. Therefore I decided to focus on one shop only, in the city closest to my heart, Brussels.”