The zany Belgian designer keeping fashion fun

Always guaranteed to bring a touch of craziness and colour to Paris Fashion Week, Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck could not help having a dig Wednesday at the megabrands dominating the industry.

Even by the veteran designer’s zany standards, his latest menswear show was a wildly imaginative collection, featuring jackets with tentacles, enormous hats, huge blue goat horns and a bright green gas mask.

Perhaps the most interesting detail was jackets with holes running right through from front to back.

All of it was lapped up by Van Beirendonck’s adoring fans — many of them extravagantly dressed in his past outfits — who see him as a blast of much-needed fun in the self-serious world of high fashion.

The designer purposely went for an intimate setting this season to contrast with the enormous shows put on by billion-dollar brands like Dior, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.

“I don’t want to do a big Far West movie,” he told AFP backstage, in a dig at Louis Vuitton’s ultra-expensive, cowboy-themed show the night before.

“I feel it’s really sometimes too much what they are doing. There’s so much money being spent, they should spend it on better things,” he said with a laugh.

Van Beirendonck even eschewed the usual pounding soundtrack of a fashion show, instead planting a hidden speaker on each model, playing the likes of Joy Division and David Bowie.

He said that “more than ever” it was difficult to survive as an independent label, but it was gratifying to see young people discovering his work.

Some of the new collection resurrected elements from his groundbreaking work in the 1990s, including prosthetics that added strange new shapes to the models’ faces, and his own.

“Everything is completely new, it’s not nostalgic. But it’s a little bit like a reminder of what I did in the past, and which is now popping up everywhere,” he said.

“I have a really nice following of people that like what I’m doing — really young people are discovering my work from the 90s. It’s a nice energy.”

er/giv

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