Liège is ugly. Or let’s call it ‘authentic’. Because, what does beautiful mean?
I’ve been to Liege many times. Short visits to race my bike somewhere in the area. It never occurred to me to stay there longer than a few hours. The city, in the east of Belgium, not far from the borders of Netherlands and Germany, is part of the “sillon industriel”, the former backbone of Wallonia. What you see when you arrive, by bike or by car, are chimneys and cable masts.
So when Maarten de Groot suggested to me to shoot the new collection in Liege, I was… surprised, to say the least. “You know it’s really ugly, right?”
But we went. We went into the city, downwards in a spiral of steep one-way streets where your sense of direction gets completely confused. Signs hanging upside down don’t help.
We reached the train station: as incongruous as a spaceship. A contemporary, bright and white building in the middle of a brown city. The design of Santiago Calatrava seems so out of place that it actually fits the city.
We ride back up the narrow streets. Not your typical Belgium weather. Sunlight on our faces, the temperature is rising. I’m starting to get it. This place is not a standard cycling town. Maybe that’s why I feel like we fit in here.
Suddenly, my eye glimpsed a tiny purple house. If I wasn’t convinced before, now I am! Liege is my soul city. And it’s beautiful.
I’m glad Maarten convinced me to go to Liege. He used the argument that “Liège is actually beautiful in its ugliness.” And I’m kind of on the same page with him now. Although you could even define what a beautiful location looks like? There is beauty to be seen everywhere, even in the most unlikely places, and I think it is that which gives rise to the feeling of pleasure within us. This city, this day and this amazing crew gave me that feeling. And it’s also you, women all over the world that ride in crazy ugly or beautiful places and are having fun. Thank you all for the inspiration. This collection, again, is created for you.