Nathalie Bouhana of Chauncey & Brussels
9th August 2014
Fashion designer Nathalie Bouhana founded Chauncey five years ago together with her husband David Sdika. Today you can find their Belgian knitwear collection in shops all over the world from Europe to the United States and Japan. As her husband is Belgian they moved to Brussels, a city she loves. She tells us her story and shares her best addresses with us.
The name Chauncey originates from ‘Being There’, her husband and her’s favourite movie.
“Mr. Chauncey is the main character of the movie. There comes some mystery with him; in a way he has a lot of humour. For me his character is very Belgian and a bit surrealistic. He makes me think about Magritte. Mr. Chauncey’s character is best to describe as ‘elegant with a twist’ and that is exactly what our brand Chauncey is about. We like to bring classic minimalistic knitwear with a twist. I love funny graphics – I am still very young in my mind – so last season my blue jumpers had sunny side eggs, icecreams and pills on the shoulder.”
Nathalie was born in Paris where she studied archeology. When writing her master’s dissertation on Egyptian cotton she bumped into Christian Lacroix, where she could do her internship. Nathalie was always interested in fashion. By working for Hermès, Ferragamo, Cerruti, Dunhill and Jean Paul Gaultier she obtained her experience. Knitwear has always been her focus and speciality. She lived in Paris, London, Italy and Japan before she met her Belgian husband David. She decided to move to Brussels. Together they started their Belgian knitwear collection, Chauncey. “Somehow Colette and the shops in Japan loved what I did.” They only choose the highest quality yarn: Cashmere from Mongolia, Shetland from Schotland and Merino from Italy.
“After my archeology studies, I started fashion academy in Paris. But I didn’t like it there. I wanted to go to fashion school in Antwerp. I have always been impressed by Belgian designers. I’m a shy person, so I don’t wear these sweaters with a fun twist myself. I love them, but I don’t want people looking at me. In a way for me as a shy person it is very interesting to make something shocking. I hate cute things like flowers, I like graphics that are not meant to be beautiful. The new winter jumpers for men have mice on them for example. The main idea for my new collection is ‘Ordinary is amazing’. The collection is elegant and ordinary but in a way it is amazing as well. This idea I have also in life: anything you can find in life is amazing.”
"Ordinary is amazing"
Where to shop Chauncey?
Paris: Colette, Merci, Le Bon Marché – Antwerp: Graanmarkt 13 – London: Opening Ceremony, Dover Street Market – New York: Dover Street Market – Tokyo: Eliminator, Tomorrowland, Dover Street Market.
Nathalie’s favourite addresses in Brussels:
Today Nathalie lives together with her husband and two daughters in Ixelles, Brussels. “I am very Belgian in my heart, I love Brussels. But it hasn’t always been like that. In the beginning – after living in Paris for years – Brussels was too calm for me. But I really learned to appreciate this city.”
“I absolutely love the Ixelles neighbourhood in Brussels. The buzz out there is fantastic. I love Place du Châtelain, especially on Wednesday when it is market day.”
– Crêperie Western – Rue Americaine 91, Ixelles
“When I was 5, I lived in Normandy for a couple of years. The crêpes at Western are almost as good as those in Normandy. I love to take my daughters here.”
– Kamo – Avenue des Saisons 123, Ixelles
“I’ve lived in Japan, so I do know what good Japanese food is like. The best Japanese restaurant in town is Kamo. The food has a fusion twist. The restaurant has a Michelin star, but is still affordable.”
– L’Everest – Chaussée de Vleurgat 153
“A Nepalese restaurant that serves amazing food.”
– Eden – Rue du Page 27, Ixelles
“In this little shop in Ixelles you can find Japanese teas and pastries. The typical daifuku pastries are to die for!”
– Aksum Coffee House – Rue des Eperonniers 60
“Aksum is a tiny Ethiopian coffee place. They roast their beans themselves, and believe me their coffee is better than the Italian one. On the background you can hear Ethiopian music. This is a place that you love immediately when you walk in. Try their Ethiopian breakfast on Sunday.”
– Les Superfilles du Tram – Rue Lesbroussart 22
“Best burgers in town! And a great place to come with kids.”
– Walkin’ Thai – Rue Lesbroussart 38, Ixelles
“Great, fresh Thai food.”
-Park Rouge Cloître – Rue de Rouge-Cloître 4, Oudergem
“Rouge Cloître is a park where I go to if I want to relax. It is a 20 minutes drive from Brussels. The wild flowers there are amazing!”
-Park Les 7 Fontaines – Braine l’alleud
“Park Les 7 Fontaines is my secret place. Not many people know this park. I love to come here for a picnic; the nature is wild and beautiful. The horses out here make me think of Normandy again.”
– Cinematek – Baron Hortastraat 9
“Behind Bozar in Brussels you find Cinematek. They show the best selection of old movies for 4 euros. And inside you also find the museum of cinema. I love this place!”