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9 years, 11 months ago
Walter van Beirendonck: Couture should push forward the boundaries of fashion
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Photo Anders Sune Berg

Walter van Beirendonck is a powerful fashion designer, having started as one of the Antwerp Six. His works are energetic and each fashion collection has a statement. Van Beirendonck became well-known to the critics as well as the audience also through collaborations with other artists.

When we look at your art, we realize that there is a constant through your work and that is energy. Where does that come from?

I hope and I think that the energy comes directly from me. With every collection extremely excited to do new experiments, tell a new story, make a new statement and to present interesting collections I can be proud of.

And good energy is part of that creation, showing and presentation to my clients.

F/W 2012-2013 photo

F/W 2012-2013

Where does a collection start from? Tell us what inspires you.

Everything can be a starting point, but it starts mostly with something i’m triggered by, something i’m fascinated by…. than i start to do research and read about this subjects. But i love to go and see exhibitions, discover new artists work in galleries, google topics, and than surf into different directions, read, search in librarys and bookshops, watch nature and animals, enjoy flower power, watch movies and documentaries, enjoy food and sex… and thousands things more.

Colours, patterns, materials: there is no in-between in your collections, you go all the way, which made you more and more visible on the artistic scene. What do you think when people consider you as being one of the most important designers today?

Of course it is a nice compliment, but after 30 years in fashion-business you can relativize such a compliment.

One day you are IN, OUT… but i do feel lately,much more respect from press and buyers, than ever before. I did found a way to express myself with a huge amount of freedom, and that is visible on the catwalk.

The domination of luxury houses combined with the copycat-companys created today a fashion-world with a lack of originality and a repetitive image. Originality and unique pieces is that what a lot of consumers and shops are searching for, and i found a way to make and produce these.


Dream the World Awake, with Nick Knight photo

We would like to know what artists you find interesting and why.

Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Folkert De Jong, Grayson Perry… and a lot of outsider artists, which works I love!

I like them because I love to watch and read about their work. And I do feel ‘connections’ with these artists, what makes me happy!

F/W 2011 photo

F/W 2011

As a modern, unconventional and contemporary designer, how would you define the word “couture” in 2014?


Mostly I’m disappointed by the work of the couture-collections today. I do know that it is in the first place a big business (mainly perfume and handbags), but I think that it should be THE place in the fashion-world where should be experimented. Where past and future should come together, and result in amazing creations.

I hope that the younger generations will understand that COUTURE should push forward the boundaries of fashion, and I hope that that couture fashion-houses do understand the importance of CREATIVITY and PURE creation! Combined with craftsmanship and elegancy! When that will happen,couture will have a NEW reason to be there.



What was fashion like ten years ago compared to fashion today?

Every decade of fashion has other goals, possibilities, expressions, temperaments… but that makes it so interesting. Fashion reflects/communicates directly on/with our contemporary world and what happens in this world.

Ten years ago fashion was different, but also the world was different.

F/W 2008-2009 photo

F/W 2008-2009

A/W2014-15 photo


A/W2014-15 photo


Do you see fashion, as a worldwide industry, an element that would make more and more people interested in arts? For instance, young girls that are genuinely in love with fashion would become fascinated by the arts fashion is inspired from?

I hope so, I enjoy it, when people are telling me that they discovered new artists and topics through my work. Sometimes my audience is really surprised to discover so much content and layers in my work, the subjects are sometimes very loaded,rather heavy and militant (AIDS/racism/gender/war…)

Nevertheless, is it the visual look of the collections always positive, colorful and bright.

Ballet de l'Opera. Marie-Agnes Gillot. Merce Cunningham photo

Ballet de l’Opera. Marie-Agnes Gillot. Merce Cunningham

Is fashion becoming one of the main arts cultivator? Please explain.

Cultivating art is a good intention, but not everybody is sensitive for art and creation I think, and taste varies a lot, so there will be always PRO and CONTRA.

What interests you apart from fashion?

Art, ethnic and folk art, nature and animals. Cities and traveling, and my dearest longtime friend DIRK VAN SAENE.

Walter Van Beirendonck and Erwin Wurm’s Art Film photo

Walter Van Beirendonck and Erwin Wurm’s Art Film

S/S 2015 photo

S/S 2015

S/S 2015 photo

S/S 2015

You have found your direction and your work is easily recognizable. How do you relate to what happens in fashion today?

I feel as an outsider fashion-designer. Critical for the fashion-system, but still enjoying the fashion-world/system and with very personal rules and a very personal way of working.



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