Friday, June 28, 2013

BEAUTY: Clothing--Walter Van Beirendonck

Paris Fashion Week is underway and as usual, we are seeing some amazing artistic creations.

Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck, one of the original Antwerp Six (with other notables Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester), is always highly entertaining, bringing a fascinating, in-your-face, sometimes puzzling, sometimes annoying "art school" sensibility to his collections. Sale-able? Wearable? No, he is making artistic and psychological statements with cloth and materials instead of paint or clay. Same thing.

His '14 Spring-Summer collection is entitled "Home Sweet Home" and while it seems avant-garde, and may even contain references to schools of art that existed during the early part of the twentieth century (Cubism, Dadaism, Fauvism), he literally means "home"--his home. He created prints that show a Persian rug on a floor, walls (cleverly created with extra panels sewn onto jackets) and art (by the American Pop Artist Scooter La Forge) hanging on those walls. Word is that these images come from Van Beirendonck's home that he shares with his partner Dirk Van Saene in a little village outside of Antwerp. Wood plank flooring occupies the lower half of outfits while wallpapered walls and furniture occupy the topmost half. It vaguely reminds me of Frankie Morello's '13-'14 Fall-Winter collection in which they employed images of buildings and building materials such as plank and marble flooring. But where Frankie Morello's suite was hard-edged and urban, here, Van Beirendonck softens the concept of home with some sweet, flowing creations, full-length python opera gloves for men, a Klaus Nomi-looking tux ensemble, and glittered Marcelle-waved hair. But of course Van Beirendonck wouldn't be Van Beirendonck if he weren't pushing some buttons. Check out the shoes featuring, ahem, erect male members...worn with socks woven with images of roosters (who often go by another name) and snails. The signified and the signifiers. Infusing this domesticity with sexuality seems sly but perfectly understandable. Domestic scenes exist because of sexuality.

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