You’re Being Watched: Walter Van Beirendonck Men’s Spring 2015

A drawing of a security camera accompanied by the slogan “CCTV in operation” appeared on the program notes of Walter Van Beirendonck’s men’s show for summer 2015, a sign of protest against mass surveillance. But instead of an intrusion into people’s lives, the show felt more like watching the designer’s wonderfully fertile mind, as he scoured Asia and Africa while keeping his feet firmly planted in contemporary urban life. Like traveling without moving.

The Japan-influenced opening featured rich jacquard jackets, some with cutaways and patchwork effects that recalled the free-form creations of the 1970’s wearable-art movement, and such designers as Kaisik Wong. They were worn with loose beige pants tightened by colorful judo belts, and thick-soled sandals on the feet. After a rich kimono section, the collection moved to striking jumpsuits sweetened by tulle capes featuring military decoration.

Paris Fashion Week has just started, but it’s safe to say the Belgian designer displayed some of the most striking accessories seen a while, caps whose vertical brim halved the face, with one side adorned with tribal patterns that were replicated on the face. It was a subtle expression of his fascination with African traditional culture, also echoed by sunglasses with a white-rim detail that recalled an ivory tusk.

The parade ended with an orgy of graphic patterns contrasting with pieces decorated by the New York artist Scooter Lafarge, intriguing painted reveries mixing  sea landscape and fauna.

The onomatopoeia “Whambam” was the title of the show. “Splash” would also have worked.

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