Can you describe what you do? Where you are based, the neighbourhood you live in, your daily routine, the people you work with, the scene you feel the closest to.
I run my personal blog Polienne, which I combine with modelling to keep me from hanging around the house all day. They’re both quite unpredictable and dynamic professions, so no two weeks are alike. The only constant is fashion. I have zero routine in my day, but I left my desk job as a social media manager only a couple of months ago so I am still savouring the freedom of planning my own day. The borders between my blogging and modelling are starting to blur now that I have professionalised my blog. Clients with whom I work as a model keep in mind that I have a blog, while at blogger events I come across stylists and journalists who I already know from modelling jobs. I’m based in Antwerp’s Het Zuid, the neighbourhood I feel closest to.
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?
I couldn’t think of any other city to live in, because Antwerp literally has everything. Small and cosy, with a rich history that left its traces all around town. You can feel the creativity in the air. People here are pretty proud of their city. And while I wasn’t born here, after five years I pretty much consider myself a local.
What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives? What gives the city its edge?
My flatmate Robin Houben is an event planner, and she always sees new possibilities and options to create new concept. I think that this is Antwerp’s force, this appeal for creative and start-ups. Interesting people will quickly come along with good ideas, willing to share their knowledge. I often grab my bike for a ride around town, just for inspiration. I’d love to discover more of Antwerp’s Noord neighbourhood, where Park Spoor Noord is located too. It’s currently one of the most inspirational places in town for me.
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?
I was born in a small, rural town in the Kempen region, and I certainly don’t have any plans of going back there soon. I’ve felt at home here from the start. I’m not sure this would have been the case in Ghent, or in any other Flemish city for that matter. I frequently write about Antwerp on the blog since many of my readers ask about where I take my pictures. My first blog posts, 8 years ago, were written at my parents’ house in Westmalle. Had I not moved to Antwerp, my blogging career would quite literally have developed completely differently. Location is key.
As a child I pretty much lived in a forest. I am not the kind of person who needs a large garden, yet I do think it is a pity that districts such as Borgerhout look quite bare.
On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?
More green. As a child I pretty much lived in a forest. I’m not the kind of person who needs a large garden, although I do think it is a pity that districts such as Borgerhout look quite bare. I’d also like for the different neighbourhoods to be more connected. There are parts of the city where I never go because there seems to be some kind of barrier to get there. I guess I feel this hesitation because of the biases about these neighbourhoods. Yet, I do my best to keep on discovering because there is still so much to see in this small city. My roomie tells me about nice addresses to eat and drink in Borgerhout and thanks to my boyfriend who lives in Berchem I get to go to that district more often now too.
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?
An ideal weekend in Antwerp starts with a stay at hotel De Witte Lelie at the Keizerstraat. Not that I have ever been there, but I would love to stay in such a fabulous place and act like a tourist in my own city. I love having brunch at Tinsel or Kaffeenini and the large market at the Theaterplein on Saturday is a must. Vascobelo is a great spot for a more classic brunch with croissants and a soft-boiled egg. In the afternoon I go shopping in the Kloosterstraat, where I also take out-of-towners because everything is gathered here and it goes all the way from het Zuid to the city centre. It’s full of treasures. Ampere, a club under the railroads, is the perfect location to end the day. Or you could just stroll or cycle around the city, discovering everything at ease.polienne.com Interview Tine Van den Poel Photography Thomas Ost