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We need WALTER to see the future

03 February 2023

We need WALTER to see the future

Meditations on planetary survival through the guise of sex, death and humanity.

By Annabel Blue

Walter Van Beirendonck at the finale of his AW23 show.

Italian cathedrals often incite, even for the agnostic or the atheist, a sensation of divine awe and curiosity. Last summer on his break in Italy, Walter Van Beirendonck experienced just that – according to Vogue – ignited by the ‘Mosaico di Otranto,’ in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, with a tapestry of mosaics visually expounding ancient stories of life, god and humanity.

Walter Van Beirendonck AW23 Collection

What came through in Walter’s AW23 collection was a concoction of the aforementioned trilogy, materialised through channels of sex – of course, futuristic folklore animals and the environment, poignantly centered around the messaging “WE NEED NEW EYES TO SEE THE FUTURE.”

With David Bowie’s “Five Years” as the perfect soundtrack, Walter’s messaging for a greener future permeated the great halls of the chandelier-bejeweled Salle Wagram, a historic auditorium situated in Paris’s 17th arrondissement.

(Side note: According to a 2013 article in Dazed, Beirendonck cites David Bowie as being the initial influence that compelled him to put pencil to paper, and start designing.)

Walter Van Beirendonck AW23 Collection

Dotted throughout the crowd were ‘W’ Walter hats and scarves, with a pandemonious mix of attendees chattering gaily amongst themselves. Some wearing devil ears, others in neon headwear or spiked Walter Van Beirendonck puffer jackets to name some modest looks. The entire space was a spectacle in and of itself.

'W’ hats front row at the AW23 show
Walter Van Beirendonck AW23 Collection

The lights came up and models waltzed out, adorned in defiant cycling jerseys protesting “NO WAR,” “PEACE,” and “SAVE OUR FUTURE.” Animating select looks across the collection were unicorns and alien-like iconography printed on knits and lycra featuring eyes within light bulbs – in true Walter absurdity. Other looks of note featured funeral veils in nature’s spectrum of colours, a mournful metaphor of impending doom disguised in playful flavours of kink.

Walter Van Beirendonck AW23 Collection
Walter Van Beirendonck AW23 Collection

Many suits and shirts were inflatable or silhouetted in life raft-esque bulbs. This was distracting but looking back on the collection with ‘new eyes,’ it was another message Walter hinted at semiotically.

Walter Van Beirendonck AW23 Collection
Walter Van Beirendonck AW23 Collection

A member of the Antwerp Six, Walter Van Beirendonck has – from day dot – produced profound and impactful, almost religious in their impact designs that have not only maintained their distinct spirit of youth, sexuality and freedom through his iconic use of colour and shape – but have, in one way or another, shared imperative messages to his audience ranging from sexual liberation and anti-war sentiments to the environment.

Walter’s AW23 collection is an extension of his body of design and a timely one no less.

View the full collection here.

Words by Annabel Blue

Images courtesy of Walter van Beirendonck

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SEE ISSUE #06 HERE. The theme for this issue, Revelations, delves into the unfiltered aspects of life. It’s an appreciation and exploration of raw beauty, where authenticity reigns supreme; the unconventional is not just accepted but celebrated. In a world of manufactured perfection, this issue chooses to validate our quirks and idiosyncrasies. After all, they are what make us inimitable.

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