A mash-up of black-tie, bondage and candy land pastels, It is hard to remember Walter Van Beirendonck’s Summer 2013 collection without seeing the hats. Designed by Folkert de Jong, foam top hats, and the neck ruffs of the finale, were the visual thread that ran through the feminine leaning pastel collection underneath. The top hats, with bright colors drizzling down the sides, and multicolor stains all over, emphasized the playful nature of the clothes and exaggerated the quirkiness of the show.
Either half dressed or half undressed, there was an awkwardness in the styling that could only have been intentional considering its consistency throughout the show. Shorts were worn with knee-high socks and garters, making them feel more like boxers, especially with the un-tucked white tuxedo shirts. Bowties finished the neckline making the bare knees seem even more unfinished, but no bother. Shibari harnesses replaced suspenders, and were interpreted literally with leather or rope, and later as a t-shirt print. The motif was also simulated by gathered tunnels, crisscrossing on across the front and back of a cotton vest, jacket and jumpsuit, the loose strings hanging down the zip-front closure.
Beginning with a dark plaid blazer over the white and pastel items beneath, the look soon turned upside down, pairing dark pants with a candy stripe blazer. Crisp white shirts were a rest for the eye, layered over pink or purple striped pants and trousers. Constant throughout the show, although never quite the same, the white shirts allotted freedom to experiment with what went on top or bottom. Not to say that Van Beirendonck didn’t have fun with these classic pieces as well: One with patches mimicked a muscular chest and six pack. Getting longer and longer, the shirts eventually became knee length and were shown in a variation of sheer, or in poplin with round polka dots appliquéd on down the front.
Serious, formal leather shoes stamped with hot-pink lightning bolts or with block letters reading ‘secrets’ are just the kind of out-of-the box accessory that are infiltrating the classically limited men’s wardrobe. The whole show, in fact, was made up of this kind of balance of experiment and the comfort zone. It is the quality of the tailoring and structure that makes these clothes, although styled eccentrically, believable in the world of a sophisticated man. Like the state of menswear that is opening up to the possibilities, Van Beirendonck has every intention of being one to pull men into a more expressive way of dressing. But he’s not holding any hands.
- Lee Anderson, Parisian Correspondent
Photo Credit: Dan Lecca