Walter Van Beirendonck Spring 2023 Menswear Collection


We were in the oh-so-cute Theatre de la Madeleine, all red velvet upholstery, gold paint, and squashed knees. Curtain up was due for 5pm. However Walter Van Beirendonck is a monument of Parisian fashion—he does what he wants—and it was close 50 minutes until we began. In that stretch there was plenty of time to re-acquaintance ourselves with Covid-neurosis plus a fresh twist on a runway show classic in an interaction between the audience in the stalls and the photographers clustered behind them up to capture front-of-stage. The photographers bellowed: “cross your iPhones!”

Once the curtain came up nobody cared, and up went the phones. The show was split into two acts. The first saw around 12 sinisterly shrouded figures standing on stage. One by one wires whipped up their shrouds into the darkness above, and they walked. What seemed to be slowly revealed was a Beirendonck attired theater troupe from somewhere between the 16th century and the 26th. Floating ruffs and ruffle-slit sleeve jackets and shirting were presented on Bowie/Styles worthy metallics and perkily castellated shorts. “Don’t go too close to the sun,” admonished a slogan tank top.

The lights dimmed, the curtain lowered, and we were starting to think of the up-and-coming Jeanne Friot due to show in a presentation three minutes later at a venue Google Maps showed was 35 minutes away in traffic. But then the curtain rose again for the second act. This was heavier on gimp, kink, and color—WvB’s traditional trinity—and it became apparent through the sloganeering that this was an anti-war collection that also exhorted onlookers to “Swallow.” This was also highly-phone worthy—those photographers had no chance.

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