The Catwalk is a Canvas for Walter Van Beirendonck Spring/Summer 2015
Walter Van Beirendonck: a true visionary. From his base in Antwerp, the fashion iconoclast creates outlandish collections, alive with energy and passion. There is no question that few designers so positively embody notions of chaos and pure enjoyment so thoroughly as he. An empty catwalk is always an open invitation to anarchy for the provocative Belgian designer, and his Spring/Summer 2015 collection presented as part of Paris Fashion Week was no exception.
With the ubiquity of Big Brother surveillance culture firmly in his sights, Beirendonck covers the venue for his menswear collection with references to CCTV cameras before proposing a solution to this perceived menace in the form of fashion. The solution comes in the form of collaboration with New York City-based painter Scooter LeForge, a kindred spirit in the use of warped popular culture references and bold colorful distortions of cartoon worlds.
The collection was saturated with visual devices designed to confuse surveillance cameras, from erratically positioned discs designed to break up the body in the “eye” of automated cameras, to eccentric monotone and colored headpieces making particularly evocative use of illustrations by LaForge to cause facial recognition software to fail. Beirendonck’s models are united against the surveillance state under a flag of rebellion via military motifs, but rendered fittingly camp. Epaulettes hang decadently long as tassels, brocade jackets appeared in a state of disassembly, leggings featured “dazzle camouflage” patterns are rendered in shocking crimson, while the mix of patterns in deconstructed tailcoat continue to confuse the eye but delight the fashion conscious.
The maelstrom of patterns and color sauntering down the runway combined to a riotous effect, against which the surveillance state is clearly no match. Yet even in the midst of the designer’s strong political message, his sense of “playful romance” and his consistently joyful aesthetic voice remains intact.