WALTER VAN BEIRNENDONCK
Born in Brecht, Belgium, Walter Van Beirendonck rose to prominence in the 80s as one of the most innovative and influential designers of his time. Known for his improbable, idiosyncratic designs, Walter reinvented the standard for menswear. Van Beirendonck’s aesthetic is bright and humorous, if not chaotic. Embedded with social and political messages, Walter continues to show collections that are graphically strong, conceptually challenging, and technically innovative.
Walter’s journey began at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. While studying there, he would meet Martin Margiela, Dries Van Noten , Ann Demeulemeester, Marina Yee, Dirk Bikkembergs and Dirk Van Saene, also known as the Antwerp Six Plus One. Together they broke through cultural barriers, making a name for themselves during the British Designer Show in London in 1987. Following their breakout, Van Beirendonck launched and designed the line Wild and Lethal Trash, frequently shortened to W<. In 1992 he formed a partnership with Mustang, a German denim brand. He was given big budgets to mount elaborate shows under the label W.& L.T. The motto for these youthful collections was "Kiss The Future," a concept translated in high-tech materials, bright colors and cartoonish graphics, appropriated from rave culture. Van Beirendonck contrasted childlike references with exaggerated masculine characteristics. After falling out with Mustang, Walter began to develop his designs under the label Aestheticterrorists, an attempt to reinsert emotion into fashion in response to a perceived lack of creativity plaguing the industry. He worked under this line until 2004 and has since developed clothes under his own name.
Walter is considered a mentor by many designers, including Raf Simons, Craig Green, Bernhard Willhelm and Kris Van Assche. He is also considered a contemporary collaborator and has worked with Rei Kawakubo; the Austrian conceptual artist Erwin Wurm; the Irish rock band U2; and the Australian industrial designer Marc Newson.