LA BELGITUDE: There were mussels, mayonnaise and fries, waffles and tankards of beer. Have you guessed the theme? Delvaux on Sunday night, in a structure running alongside its Paris flagship in the Palais Royal gardens, threw a bash celebrating Belgium’s cultural legacy, or as they coined it “la Belgitude,” serving guests all of the above.
The brand, which lays claim to being the oldest luxury leather-goods house in the world, was actually founded a year before the birth of the nation, in 1829.
Cloud-lined, upside-down umbrellas à la René Magritte hung in the entryway. In the marquee’s center, a box accessed by a tiny door showcased seven itsy-bitsy versions of the house’s iconic Brillant bag, hooked on stands dotted around a patchwork of roses and brussels sprouts. Dubbed Miniatures Belgitude, and each named after a Belgian city, the bags will go on sale in the brand’s stores in June.
“The saying is small is beautiful, but small is also super complex, for us this was a fun, humble way of presenting the house’s know-how,” said Christina Zeller, Delvaux’s artistic director. “Delvaux’s big focus this year is to reinforce the fact that we belong to the small kingdom of Belgium….We’ve just totally revamped our Brussels flagship, and the project will end, at the end of the year, with the museum at our Arsenal headquarters.”
A number of Belgian talents attended the event, including “Mr. Nobody” director Jaco Van Dormael, actresses Emilie Dequenne and Deborah François, Benjamin Paulin, and son of cult furniture designer Pierre Paulin, with live music by local group Alice on the Roof.
“It’s outrageous that people only associate Belgium with fries and waffles. Belgium is rain, racing clouds and fog. It’s surrealism, it’s poets, it’s Magritte — it’s Delvaux,” kidded Belgian actress Hande Kodja.
“They’re not clichés, they’re delicacies. I’ve been living in Paris for almost 20 years, and whenever I go back home, the first thing I want to do is have a beer, to eat some chocolate, to eat fries. I never eat those kinds of things in Paris. It’s my Proust’s Madeleine, in fact,” said Émilie Dequenne, the lead in the just-released political drama, “Chez Nous [This Is the Land]” directed by Lucas Belvaux. “It’s about populist parties, it’s quite topical.”
Van Dormael said that Belgians like to be the first with the jokes. When asked what he was working on, he replied: “I’m trying to write, but most of my film is still in my pen.”
Hovering by the brussels sprouts, Delvaux’s limited-edition Hero bag on her arm, filled with fresh fruit and vegetables, Belgian model Charlotte Collard talked about her fashion-meets-food project, “In The Kitchen,” where she uploads pictures of herself cooking in outfits on her Instagram page. “They are two worlds that talk about taste.”