It's mildly unsettling, to say the least, when you're handed disposable coveralls and masks upon arrival at a show, and asked to put them on for the sake of your clothes. Walking into A.F. Vandevorst's rooms entirely covered in clear plastic tarpaulins — just like Dexter's kill rooms — was an oppressive experience alleviated only by the thrill of fashion novelty to come. A live band wailed the Velvet Underground's "White Light White Heat.” Meanwhile, guests kept on piling into the rooms so compactly that it took an age for the first models to work their way around.
Close proximity meant an almost hands-on experience with the clothes imagined by An Vandevorst and Filip Arickx. The sculptural volumes of the duo were on full display. Delivered in all black, only occasionally decorated with lashings of white paint through the "White Light, Paint it White" performance of Belgian artist Joris Van de Moortel, the contrast was all the stronger. Although the windswept concretions of fabric — wool bonded aluminium — were poetic attention grabbers, there were plenty of more mundane choices. Among these were tailored straight trousers, fantastically tailored jackets as seen on a grey silhouette with thin tuxedo stripes running down the leg, even some band t-shirts. Some fabulous knits figured vegetation but looked made to nestle in.
The inspiration, drawn from the stark landscapes of the Andes Moutains, imbued the collection with a dramatic flair. Occasionally, a silhouette tried too hard to hit a highbrow sculptural route, but those were minor wayposts. Sweeping headdresses in the shape of condors (wings or even a whole bird) added a touch of whimsy, while felt panama shapes provided a nice balancing point. More importantly, the narrative built on the previous season and confirmed that while the road has been long and hard, it seems that Arickx and Vandevorst are finally back at basecamp.