Walter Van Beirendonck has crafted yet another unbelievable collection to inspire the young, and the young at heart. It speaks to those with a love of dressing up, as well as a keen eye for attention to detail. The suits were beautifully tailored and emblazoned in all manner of decorations in a bid to create a modern incarnation of the fictional English dandy Dorian Gray himself. Naturally it came as quite a surprise to find blazers and suit pants worn with a colorful array of strappy sandals. However, it managed to soften the transition between Western formal wear and those pieces inspired by the traditional motifs of the East. It also acted as a gentle reminder that despite all the pomp and circumstance associated with fashion week, designers are here to present six months worth of work and also enjoy themselves. Van Beirendonck is a wonderful example and living testament to that philosophy, as is evident from his archival work which was recently part of an exhibition hosted at RMIT University.
A quick search on eBay for Walter Van Beirendonck will uncover just a few pieces scattered across the globe (mostly from his native Belgium), dominated by ready to wear pieces more suited for street style. Other results include copies of his hardcover book and various magazines as an affirmation of his status as a pop culture hero. If you're lucky enough there may also be some elaborate jewellery which is simply the stuff dreams are made of, but that's another story entirely. So naturally it came as quite a surprise when an army of well dressed and dapper gentleman sauntered down the runway. Although I must admit I don't know much about Walter Van Beirendonck and I am still new and unfamiliar to the exciting world of menswear. While I can't comment on whether this is unusual for the bearded Belgium what I can say is there is an obvious attraction towards dressing up. That is a philosophy which I can sympathize with and then recognize in a heartbeat.
It was that sudden and unexpected addition of Western influences during the middle of the presentation that helped to maintain the attention of the audience. With the click of a button I can race through an entire collection at home and even then I can sometimes struggle to take it all in. With the addition of lighting and music also comes extra distractions to the front row elite. So it's crucial that new ideas are continually introduced throughout the duration of the collection, whilst remaining connected to a theme. Towards the latter end tailored trouser pants were traded in for skin-tight leggings and slightly crazier designs. Slowly each outfit became more and more gentrified until there was almost an emergence of an ambassador-figure rather than the princes shrouded in a veil of tulle and single epaulette. What's more interesting is the blending between casual street style pieces with more preppy and old-school silhouettes.
What Van Beirendonck has been able to deliver is nothing short of astonishing. Not content to be confined to a single style, the Belgian beautifully reconciled modern street style with the affluent. What's more there were a number of different influences culminating in a collection fit for the consumption of an international citizen. Jacquard textures acted as a spectacular canvas for wild and fantastical images, including wacky drawings, open mouthed sharks and the abstract. I've always been attracted to imagery and after growing up in suburban Australia it seemed like there was little alternative to the lowly slogan printed t-shirt from the mall. But finally it seems that there is an alternative, although we have yet to see that translate into women's wear. Of course there are many designers who incorporate a drawing into their designs but these are often shown in a repeated pattern, which in turn becomes mass-produced. I can't wait to see more designers combat this and make it an integral part of their collections.