The Antwerp Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

To mark the release of our Warriors edition, we've teamed up with This is Antwerp to bring you 100 Antwerp Warriors, a 100-strong selection of local movers and shakers setting the tone for the neighbourhood of tomorrow. From design and architecture to contemporary art and politics, these are the creatives shaping the narrative of the future.

Kaat Debo

Kaat Debo

Head curator, MoMu

Can you describe what you do?

I’m head curator at MoMu, Antwerp’s fashion museum. I live just outside of the centre in a more quiet suburb. For the most part, I rely on public transportation. That works pretty well around here. I find myself constantly gravitating back to Antwerp, and to cities that have water in general.

How do you perceive Antwerp? In your view, what kind of city is it? Its people, its cultural landscape, its vibe? How does it compare to other, similarly-sized cities?

You’re a mere two hours away from Paris-Nord with the train, from Deurne Airport I can get to London in an hour and Amsterdam is close by too. I do need this, to get away from this city from time to time. When I come back though, I’m happy to see that I enjoy Antwerp’s small scale and high quality of life. I guess, like any city, Antwerp has its advantages and its drawbacks.

A class of 150 fashion students at the Academy nowadays counts dozens of nationalities.

What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?

Despite being a small city, there are a lot of things going on. On many different areas, not just fashion. I think Antwerp, and Flanders entirely for that matter, is full of talented people that are able to find an international starting point around here. Moreover, Antwerp is a diverse city. This is, at least partly, due to its history and its harbour. You’re literally in contact with the entire world here.

How would you say Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

Professionally it’s definitely a role that shouldn’t be underestimated. I’ve been working for MoMu for 15 years. A museum I deem an important player in the city, a city that does a lot for its fashion. I have a lot to be thankful for. Although I must say that we are a museum with an obvious international profile, and we look further than just Antwerp-based designers, a term that’s becoming more and more difficult to define. A class of 150 fashion students at the Academy nowadays counts dozens of nationalities.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?

Better public transportation. If it were up to me, the entire tramway system would run all the way into the deep suburbs. I was recently in Bilbao and Antwerp could learn a thing or two from the way they handle it over there.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp? If you had to take out-of- towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?

The MoMu, of course ;). Then there’s the Middelheim museum and park, close to where I live. I often go there with my kids, it’s a gorgeous park. And I shouldn’t forget to mention the River Scheldt, and the pedestrian tunnel reaching out to Linkeroever.

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Photography Joke De Wilde