Why not go Christmas shopping at local independent stores this year instead of buying your gifts from international (online) retail giants? Sofie Albrecht and I made a list of our favourite independent beauty stores in Flanders, Brussels and online. Support small businesses! Part 3: East and West Flanders.
A lot of people wouldn’t think of Aalst as a nice destination for a day of shopping but that is slowly changing. The city welcomed some very nice shops the past couple of years, Clothilde, the beauty shop of Chloé Matthieu and Dries De Kimpe, being on of them. Clothilde stands for clean, natural slow beauty and offers a pretty large selection of brands with a strong story. Chloé is a strong believer of less is more, as in: invest in the right beauty products that you will actually use and that will actually make a real difference for your skin (and hair).
Clothilde has a nice selection of international brands like Agent Nateur, Ere Perez, Egyptian Magic and Bloomeffects but it also offers a good Belgian beauty selection with Skin by Dings, i.am.klean, Maiwé, Self, Rainpharma, Super Duper Body and Leonis Barbam.
Good to know: Chloé and Dries are very busy renovating a building around the corner from the current shop. It is almost twice as big as the current one, so there will be (even) more space for products, workshops and treatments. The opening is planned for February.
And if you plan on going to Aalst, we asked Chloé for some other must visit shops. “Shops like Anna Pops, Fonetik, Stat and Pastoor are hidden gems. And if you are in need of a drink and/or bite to eat, I can highly recommend Philimonius, Villa Vilander and Cimorne.”
Our Christmas gift pick. You have a bearded partner/father/friend? Belgian Leonis Barbam offers natural beard care in cool packaging like its nourishing and protecting White Gold Beard Balm (21,95 €).
Louis D’Haeseleerstraat 9, Aalst and online.
Mel opened her own beauty bar in the centre of Ghent in 2018 where you can shop fragrance, make-up, skin and haircare from clean, largely natural niche brands like Pestle & Mortar, Dr. Sebagh, Grown Alchemist, Ilia, Apot.Care, Philip B., Miller Harris and Jusbox. But you can also treat yourself to a facial or book an appointment in the brow & lash bar or make-up bar.
Our Christmas gift pick. Pestle & Mortar’s Box of Stars (89 €) is a good introduction to the British brand with its selection of skincare products almost everyone can use. The gift box contains everything you need for soft, smooth, well hydrated and glowy skin: a hyaluronic acid serum (Mel is a big fan of this one), a moisturizer, an exfoliant and an eye cream.
Henegouwenstraat 85, Ghent and online.
Miriam Rouw opened Fin du Jour in Ghent’s Vlaanderenstraat in 2014, followed by the shop in Kortrijk two years later and the Antwerp store in 2017. The store’s name refers to the end of the day, that moment when many women finally find the time to take time for themselves and to take care of their skin. The shop has a nice selection of niche brands on offer with more well known names such as Diptyque and Maison Francis Kurkdjian but also a couple of brands you may have never heard of or that you cannot find in every niche perfumery.
Our Christmas gift pick. A scented Diptyque candle or a Susanne Kaufmann bath oil is always a good idea!
Vlaanderenstraat 80, Ghent, Doorniksewijk 11, Kortrijk, Nationalestraat 37, Antwerp and online.
Place Vendôme isn’t your regular perfumery but a ‘haute parfumerie’ that offers a great shopping experience. It already starts outside, with the shop windows that owner David Depuydt decorates with great care. Just like at the more expensive jewellery store you have to ring the bell to enter the shop. That might be a threshold but then Place Vendôme is not a self-service shop. In fact, it would be a waste not to be advised by David or Steven, who are both very knowledgeable and can assess well what customers are looking for. The shop is very luxurious, as is its range. However, snobbery is hard to find here, passion on the other hand is to be found in abundance. The selection is quirky and exclusive – they have the exclusive collections of Cartier, Chanel and Guerlain – and David and Steven only sell fragrances they fully support and believe in.
Our Christmas gift pick. One of the exclusive fragrances of Chanel or Guerlain. David or Steven will gladly help you pick the right one.
Menenstraat 2, Wevelgem and online.
Opening picture: Clothilde. Copyright: Anke De Bakker