Since opening in 2009, RA Antwerp has stood as a platform of support for directional fashion and emerging artistic talent in Antwerp, Belgium. The space in the heart of the city comprises of four key components - a fashion retail concept, a bustling café restaurant, an art gallery space and curated bookstore. The sprawling building on the Kloosterstraat is decorated with site-specific installations by local and international artists, which include a thatched-roof cashdesk, pumpkin patch and a hidden roof garden. A subtle carnival atmosphere permeates the various rooms.
Visitors enter the space through a wooden barn door directly into the gallery space, which hosts exhibitions by emerging artists and collectives, or extends the eclectic spirit of the boutique’s collections into hybrid installations fusing fashion and art. Artists and designers are encouraged to extend their works to involve all elements of the RA space, from the gallery space to the kitchen to limited-edition printed matter.
The fashion retail floor houses the collections of over sixty prêt-a-porter labels including bespoke fashion and accessories designers, supported by a comprehensive online store at http://shop.ra13.be. The designs are focused on unusual and handmade garments with small-run production, with limited edition and exclusive pieces created for RA.
The RA bookshop presents a wide international display of recent titles on contemporary art and photography. Next to monographs and catalogues regarding these subject matters, attention is given to related titles on critical theory and to an interesting proposal of artists’ books with special attention to the local production of younger artists.
The 50-seat RA kitchen concept offers a wholesome seasonal menu by cook Hadas Cnaani, with weekly specials inspired by local and available produce. The kitchen space facilitates special events in cooperation with the art gallery, including vernissages and performances.
RA has initiated its presence in Paris since 2010 with a series of exhibitions at our temporary space in the Marais district during womens and mens prêt-a-porter fashion weeks. Buyers and press have been introduced to our conceptual selection of young, talented designers and artists from Antwerp and around the world, whom we have supported as a platform for their early works, graduation collections and small-scale art projects.
For 2012, RA cements a permanent position within the artistic and fashion hub, by opening the Parisian extension of our original retail concept and exhibition space. Inspired by the city of light, RA Paris channels a new focus on a bygone era of bespoke creation, to bring to life a 1920’s inspired “salon” ambience. The design and décor of RA Paris has been a personal project of RA founders Anna Kushnerova and Romain Brau, and is suffused with an alchemy of the elements – created in collaboration with traditional masters in metal and wood. The monumental front door is sculpted with symbolic carvings in heavy bronze, and layered curtains create shifting scenographies.
With the essence of symbolism instilled throughout the space, RA Paris will form an intimate yet theatrical showcase for modern couture offerings from artisanal designers like London’s Meadham Kirchhoff, eveningwear from Serkan Cura, millinery by Nasir Mazhar, and handcrafted costume jewellery from Heaven Tanudiredja. New designers will be complemented by an opulent selection of vintage garments from houses such as Chanel, Alaïa and Mugler, evoking the decadence of a bygone era.
In true Bohemian spirit, RA Paris will host regular salon events, including readings, performance art and intimate fashion shows. The space will be a living part of the fashion equation, inspiring designers and artists to explore a unique potential for customised installations. The unique connection with RA Antwerp will continue to evolve, creating an enriched artistic dialogue between the two cities.