HAVE YOU MET WALTER VAN BEIRENDONCK ?
He’s a fashion mogul, a trend-superhero, an energy wave, a titan of the clashes, an esteemed scholar, and a storyteller.
He is Walter Van Beirendonck.
Born in Brecht, Belgium, in 1957, Walter has been making the name Van Beirendonck globally famous for over 35 years now. Having provided the world of fashion with biannual collections ever since, his energetic/clashing/trashy/spectacular/… work is without a doubt a legacy for all.
It all started in 1977 at the renowned Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts; producer of some of the most talented designers in the cosmos, Walter included. As a student first, a teacher then, and, as head of the fashion department at last (2007 – 2022).
The year 1983 marked the launch of the self-named Label – Walter Van Beirendonck – under which his work’s been since unveiled. From his first-ever collection to his most recent show Neon Shadow, Walter Van Beirendonck has been a revolutionary in arms for the disruption of all.
SO, feel the shock, taste the sweetness, embrace the beauty, and enter the world of the emeritus child of subcultures.
PS: Small world; you can find the drawings of one of our previous interviewees Andera Cammarosano in Walter Van Beirendonck SS22 Collection. Rediscover our collaboration with Andrea here.
Let’s discover Walter’s answers to our series of questions:
WHAT DO YOU DO WITH E-O?
“I’ve been invited by Jean-Paul Lespagnard to make a couque de Dinant*. The idea is to combine our worlds by having the Walter-man printed on a couque. It will be made available for Sinterklaas celebration (December 6). The project was to happen last year, but we decided to postpone it.”
Writer’s note: To this day, Walter has never tried a couque de Dinant. Have you?
*The couque de Dinant is a biscuit originating the Belgian city of Dinant which you can find at Extra-Ordinaire in the form of a decorative object (ours is thus not to be eaten).
WHERE DO YOU LIVE & WHERE DO YOU COME FROM ORIGINALLY?
“I’m originally from Zandhoven which is a very small village in the countryside of Belgium. That’s also where I’m living now, by coincidence though. I found a place and it happened to be there. It felt a bit weird in the beginning because I hadn’t lived in the village in so long. By coming back after such a long time, I saw people who I had known in school but lost track of and of course they were a bit older after all this time, that was a strange feeling.”
NAME 1 PERSON, 1 PLACE, 1 OBJECT THAT SHAPED PAST, PRESENT AND INSPIRES YOUR FUTURE.
Past-Present-Future – A person: Dirk Van Saene:“The person with the biggest impact on my life is my Partner, Dirk. We met at school when I was in second year of studies at the Royal Academy of Antwerp. It required some work to make it happen at first, but we’ve been together since. We have a fantastic relationship and, one way or another, we always work on things together as we’re always reacting on each other’s work. It’s great to be both involved in Fashion & in Arts.”
Past-Present-Future – A place: Antwerp:“At first, I never could leave Antwerp because I was teaching at the Academy. But on the other hand, I’ve found it to be a good place where to live and work from. It is so easy to travel all over Europe; for example, to go see producers in Italy or other countries. It’s always been nice to come back to Antwerp because it’s not too much a Fashion city. I think you can get away enough from the very busy fashion life, it’s not busy like Paris for example. Antwerp allows me to have the luxury of space and light, which would be harder to find in Paris or London.”
Past-Present-Future – An object: Dolls: “I collect them. I have a big collection at home, and they inspire me all the time. Any type of doll. They’re all lined up in my office and they watch me when I’m working. It’s everything I can find on second-hand markets. They’re all characters and they all possess at least one eye. They inspire me for colors, shapes, etc. I’ve been collecting them since ever.”
HOW DO YOU FIND THE EXTRA IN THE ORDINARY IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE?
“I find it by being in nature. I love being in my garden looking at the birds, the animals around. That is what I enjoy a lot and It’s what I have now living where I live. It’s the kind of environment where you can eat outside in the morning, the mid-day, the evening. Nature is precious and it’s to be enjoyed as it is.”
WHAT MAKES E-O PHILOSOPHY SO INTERESTING, SO EXTRA-ORDINARY?
“I’ve found the concept to be very beautiful from its beginning, when Jean-Paul started to collect things from all over the world. I find it so interesting because it’s a kind of shop you don’t find anywhere else. Also, all the objects that are selected are close to my state of mind, to my interests: I’m interested in pieces of furniture, in masks, in textiles, and there you always find something you hardly see in other places, and which are close to my heart. I’m always surprised to find things in the shop that I only know from pictures or from books. It’s great to see it real.”
“The approach is unique. You hardly find such kind of objects and/or collectibles in other shops, especially brought together. I’m actually working on a diary/planner which would fit very well in the shop. It’ll be available in October this year.”
Many thanks to Walter Van Beirendonck for agreeing on this interview and to his team for the warm welcome.
Interview done and written by Richaad Kindts.