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Working-Class Neighborhood Offers Chic Shops

September 17, 1989|JENNIFER MERIN | Merin is a New York City free-lance writer .

BRUSSELS — Rue Antoine Dansaertstraat is two blocks long and in the heart of an old, undistinguished, working-class neighborhood.

But chic, trend-setting shops, with prices that lean toward the high side, are making the street one of this city's best for shopping, and are drawing customers from other European capitals.

Pyramide Design (No. 10) is Brigitte Burton's shop for fine and unusual home furnishings, featuring the work of Belgian and international designers. The French-Hungarian designer Martin Szekely's inventive roll-top bookcase ($1,317 U.S.), a one-of-a-kind, is made of aluminum.

From France there are reproductions of 1934 Art Deco chairs ($135) made of silver-colored metal. Other chairs include Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata's exotic copper-wire straightbacks, French designer Philippe Stark's nouvelle chaises , or elongated armchairs, and Italian designer Kartell's stylish stackable chairs in aqua and gray (sold in sets of three at $136 per chair).

Khymo (No. 16) sells Italian-design men's and women's wearables. Women's ensembles include Martino Midali's purple cotton-knit trousers ($78), with matching purple and black overblouses ($114).

Men's fashions include Marko Alexander's textured knit sweaters ($143) in a medley of browns, or see-through knit sweaters in black ($124), as well as Grupo Storko's tailored cotton T-shirts in vibrant greens.

Chabada (No. 20) is the choicest fashion shop on the street. The exceptional and eclectic collection contains a wide range of Jean-Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Romeo Gigli and other designers.

The racks are filled with Gaultier's eccentric tuxedos ($1,082), Equipment's shirts in bold black-and-white checkered patterns ($109), British designer David Fielden's pink and black strapless satin gown with a pink rose prominently positioned at the bust ($487), plus mechanics' jumperlike jump suits by Sybilla and Raysse's sweater and pedal-pusher sets ($102).

Accessories include Christian Lacroix's broad belts ($97 to $146) in purple and red suede, plus necklaces ($104), bracelets ($83) made of wood, coconut shell chips painted green, and handbags of leather-covered wood that are shaped to look like portable electric heaters.

Casuals for Men

Stijl, a fashion conglomerate, has three shops on Rue Dansaertstraat. No. 22 carries extremely modish and mostly casual clothes for men. Women's fashions of similar genre are at No. 26. The shop at No. 47 features men's and women's underwear.

Black, white and gray tank tops ($14 and up) with one shoulder or wraparound straps, and clinging above-the-knee leggings (from $24), can easily double as cheeky chic exercise or leisure wear, as can the stylish front-pleated boxer shorts (from $30).

Kat (No. 32) has designer clothing for children. Kenzo provides cute flower-print dresses ($78) and skirts ($49) for little girls. For dress-up occasions, boys can buy houndstooth suits with short pants ($46) and tailored jackets ($70).

Olily, a Dutch designer, is represented with three-quarter-length pants ($53) in almost-neon colors, and little shoes in equally bright hues. Perfect for wearing with the shoes are the shop's selection of socks ($6) featuring tick-tack-toe games, heifers at pasture, Halloween pumpkins and maps of California.

At Maison Sougne (No. 33) the Vlerick family has been selling "articles de peche ," or fishing equipment, since 1929. There are lifelike hand-tied flies ($10 and up) for trout fishing (which happens to be exceptional in Belgium), along with flies colored for catching salmon ($3 and up) specifically in Alaska, Scotland or Sweden.

Fishing Equipment

Rods are $15 and up. Signed, split-cane Brunner rods (only 100 a year are handmade in Austria) cost about $1,000. Other very special rods are designed for fishing for carp or roach, and cost about $250. There are also multipocketed jackets, wet-resistant sweaters and waterproof rain slickers, plus nets woven of wire ($13).

Robert Clergerie, the Parisian shoemaker extraordinaire , has a boutique at No. 34. Exceptionally well-made men's footwear is $192 to $207. Women's shoes cost $125 to $146.

Crea (No. 53) is a boutique established two years ago by Belgian designers Francine Seguin and Jenny Meirens. It includes black knit skirts gathered across the hips ($85), matched with black sweat shirts that stop at the waist and are topped with a bright red collar ($97).

Big and bulky sweaters in mauve and other lively colors cost $63. The boutique also carries Commes des Garcons' funky, asymmetrical outfits and accessories, including purple suede boots by Freelance.

Rue Blanche (No. 54) is Belgian designer Marie Regout's showcase for her neo-traditional womens' sweaters in fancy knit patterns with pretty lace collars (from $75) or big-collared bulky knits ($97 to $250).

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