Friday, 12 October 2012

Walter Van Beirendonck SS13 'Silent Secrets'

Walter Van Beirendonck is not a household name. In fact, if you are reading it for the first time, it's hard enough to read, let alone say on a daily basis - FYI, is it pronounced BEER-REN-DONCK.
He is a fashion designer, influential and very talented. After all, he has been creating fashion/art since the eighties.

I first learnt of Van Beirendonck when I looked into the 'Antwerp Six', and he soon became my favourite designer, and a huge influence on my own work.
To give a brief overview, and trust me, I wrote a whole chapter on my dissertation on this - so I could ramble on for hours, the Antwerp Six refers to a group of designers who graduated from Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts between 1980-1981. All became well known in the industry, mainly for their avant-garde approach, radical stylings and compelling collections. This was something new, something different.
They put Antwerp on the Fashion map in 1988 when they collectively took to London Fashion Fair and presented their works.

The infamous Six are made up of; Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk van Saene, Dries van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs, and Walter Van Beirendonck.
(Martin Margeila is often mistaken for being one of the Antwerp Six, due to his success from around the same period.)

Since then Walter Van Beirendonck has grown stronger and more influential - being cited as one of the main trend-setters in men's fashion, and even being stocked in some of the 'big players' worldwide, such as 10 Corso Como (Italy) and United Arrows (Japan).

Van Beirendonck's collections often take influence from politics, or world issues - I realise a very vague description, and always, always, a nod towards sex. He has used the humour of sex, a cheeky *wink wink* throughout his career. Fetishism is known to be one subject that interests him, something which recurs in many different ways throughout his fashion timeline.

The latest collection 'Silent Secrets' shown on the catwalk in Paris for Spring Summer 2013 is no exception, although it does not scream 'fetish' at us in the way his fun loving 'Sexclown' collection of 2008 did, or even from as recent as Fall 2012, in 'Lust Never Sleeps' where latex, rubber and gimp masks showed a more sinister side in to this intriguing subject.

However, it is clear from the harnesses shapes filtering through his latest work that fetish sex is still making an impression on Van Beirendonck, a source for his creative ideas to flow from.
The harnesses appear not just literally- made by ropes tightly pulled around the models body, but by cleverly printed T-shirts, modern society's most casual garment possibly saying - I may be bound but I am unrestricted?, and draw-cords through light jump suits and bomber jackets, concealed and contorting the fabric rather than the body.

I found myself looking at this collection is a slightly different light. I wasn't shocked. And that in itself shocked me. Van Beirendonck has surprised me with new levels and ways of looking at sexual fixations through his work, and often made me smile with his bold colour clashes and no-nonsense sloganeering. This collection is a peek-a-boo rather than a full sex show in comparison to some of his previous works.

A lot of his work has been saleable before, it has not just become more commercial or better cut, but this struck me as one of the most formal presentation's I have seen (through a computer, because I am yet to be that lucky I can watch with my real eyes.... On that day I might explode.) The light colours and fabrics used in contrast to a dark check of the overcoats and blazers almost makes some of the shorts appear as old-fashioned undergarments. Did this naughty young man get caught with his trousers down (and possibly in a harness), run away, grabbing his top hat on the way out of the door? His sock braces exposed for the world to see. 

Although this might sound like harmless fun, there is something quite dark about the mix of beautifully cut dress shirts and suits when mixed with rubber gloves or outwear which almost looks like a lab coat.
A complete juxtaposition seems to take placed on every model, a fight between the repressed and the expressive. A pure white and pastel toned, playful take on what can be a secretive world of dark corners behind closed doors - a world of silent secrets.

Images taken from

No comments:

Post a Comment