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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How many Belgians does it take to fill a basement?

Karin Nelson finds out...

Last Saturday’s opening celebration of Le Sous Sol, a rabbit hole-sized, subterranean shop devoted to emerging Belgian designers, wasn’t the biggest rager on the block. The dinner scene at Schiller’s, located just next door on Rivington St., unquestionably outdid it. But it was the most progressive, attracting an international crowd of Antwerp Six enthusiasts (artist Amber Halford, designer Hanuk, French jazz singer Christine Capdeville and gallerist Bronwyn Keenan among them) all sipping Seabreezes and discussing the future of fashion. (Roller-disco in Central Park was also a hot topic, but that’s a separate story).

Longtime stylist Linda Belkebir (right, with a friend) opened Le Sous Sol along with her sister Sarah to showcase Belgium’s rising design stars, people like: Jessie Lecomte, who worked for a decade with Dries Van Noten before launching her own highly-structured line last season; Jean Paul Knott, a 12-year veteran of Yves Saint Laurent; Eric Beauduin, who crafts cool one-of-a-kind bags from recycled leather; and A.F. Vandevorst, the main attraction. “They’re really why we opened the store,” said Linda of the husband/wife duo. “I couldn’t find their clothes anywhere.” As a result, Le Sous Sol carries the biggest selection of A.F. Vandevorst in the country. But given the way the crowd was drooling over their cocoon-like knit sweaters, it still may not be enough.