Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Runway - Walter Van Beirendonck: Fall 2008

It’s a shame to limit Walter Van Beirendonck’s work to just a few images from the current season. As one of the original Antwerp Six, he has been prolifically designing artistic men’s garments longer than most of the fashionista’s pictured on this site have been alive. However, we must start somewhere, no?

Although the latex undergarment suits for this season’s line uncomfortably remind me of a rubber doll convention (don’t Google that if you’re on a work computer). I can see the general idea diffusing down in some ways (i.e., tight colorful gloves, pieces with extreme sheen) into the fashion scene. Latex aside, many of his pieces – despite focusing on social and political statements before wearability – could still be appropriate for streetwear. Some of his garments use the technique we discussed below of exaggerating typical men’s fashion to create a statement while still making a piece for everyday. And while wearing a strap-on to the grocery store may raise more than a few eyebrows, Van Beirendonck’s slightly less literal exploration of male body identity becomes more favorable when camouflaged into his printed motifs.

It’s important to point out that Van Beirendonck is also searching for new male silhouettes. Although we have discussed this idea many times, we have mainly focused on doing so through the creation of draped pieces for men. Instead, here we see the use of padding and structuring. Typical forms exaggerated through the addition of padding while corsetry is carefully introduced into pants to create a highly structured and unusually flattering male silhouette.

Finally, we must point out the intellect behind his creations. Rather that following trend, Van Beirendonck is known to focus on statements ranging from safe-sex to sustainability to male body image in order to create his lines. The burka-inspired veiled hoods of this season’s line signal ideas about today’s globalized culture and gender roles. So, although wearing his pieces may not immediately signal you as “in,” they will provide you with a deeper image and perhaps a deeper philosophy. Don’t you just love a smart designer?

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