NEW YORK — Diane von Furstenberg has returned home.

Earlier this month, the New York-based designer opened her first freestanding boutique in her native Belgium. Located at Steenhouwersvest 44 in Antwerp, the 570-square-foot boutique is situated amid the cutting-edge fashion area between Nationalestraat and Kammenstraat, and the more established retail spot in the Schuttershofstraat, de Huidevettersstraat, Hopland and the Lombardenvest.

“Last year I went back to Belgium with Renilde Loeuks, the general consul of Belgium,” von Furstenberg said. “She felt that it would be great to go on a semiofficial trip and see how I could help promote some Belgian companies. On that trip, I went to Antwerp and fell in love with the city. Since my sister-in-law, Greta Halfin, was already very successful in carrying DVF in her Brussels multibrand shop Greta Marta, I suggested that maybe opening a DVF shop in Antwerp would be a good idea. It is a bit intimidating because ‘no one is prophet in their own land’ and because Antwerp is such a fashion capital.”

When asked why she chose Antwerp over her birthplace, Brussels, von Furstenberg quipped, “I always feel like a little girl when I visit Belgium…having a shop in Antwerp may change that feeling.”

In May, von Furstenberg also plans to bring her fashions to Saint-Tropez, on the French Riviera, another place dear to her. She knows the fishermen’s port town all too well — she said she will always remember her first trip as a young girl, and a party at Brigitte Bardot’s house or long lunches at Epi Plage there. The Saint-Tropez boutique, at 15 Rue Gambetta between the Place des Lices and the Port of Saint-Tropez, will be open for the main tourist seasons from April to October and in December. The Saint-Tropez store will be opened in partnership with Catherine Madar, the company’s current partner in its Paris store.

Both the Antwerp and Paris stores will cull their inspiration from the flagship in New York’s Meatpacking District, which resembles a jewel box with frosted glass panels and mirrored ceilings inspired by Indian mosaics. Each shop will offer the designer’s entire assortment, from sportswear to ready-to-wear, accessories, swimwear and shoes by her friend Christian Louboutin.

This story first appeared in the March 21, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

For von Furstenberg, these mark the eighth and ninth stores worldwide. She also operates boutiques in cities such as Miami, Los Angeles, London, Paris and Hong Kong.

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