Oh, the stories that Walter van Beirendonck tells with a scant few words. Each title of his shows offers a cryptic – and not always misleading – clue into his feelings of the season. This time, it was a kind of anger at the world’s current skew – racism, demonstrations for democracy - that WvB and his crossed crocodile were growling about. This globalized strife was echoed progressively throughout the collection. First, it was the helmets and frank “Stop Racism” affirmation scrawled across a feathered headgear, then his street cast of models. Then, it was in the clash of colors and patterns - not chaotic, but conducive to a new order - like the stripes turning into hexagons over the breast through star-shaped cuts.
The need for better conditions was embodied in the crocodile, a resilient “symbol of freedom and democracy,” the designer clued guests backstage. And it may be because Walter van Beirendonck feels so strongly about the topic, but you can’t help seeing how the civilized tailoring of his initial looks is really dressing a different kind of body armor. Nor can the martial shape of habitual hatter Stephen Jones be ignored.
Maybe it was his street cast cadre of models; maybe it was the unambiguous anger that prevailed despite the colorfulness of the models. But tyrants and judgmental labelers beware; men in skin-tight Lycra leggings never looked more manly. And even the cutest crocodile can show teeth. Here, they were everywhere, protruding from an intarsia mouth or zig-zagging along the zipper of a windbreaker, sometimes even completely out of sight but for a “Growl” patch. That’s the thing about democracy. If you don’t give it a chance, someone may well take a bite out of you.