“The last months became very surreal,” said Walter van Beirendonck, explaining he very quickly knew it would be impossible to realize the spring collection in a typical fashion. “The fabrics were not available, I could not work with my normal producers, and like that I started to think about an alternative.”
Like Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior, van Beirendonck’s mind went to the Théâtre de la Mode, a traveling exhibit after the Second World War featuring small mannequins wearing designer creations.
“At the time there was also a lack of material, and the Paris designers couldn’t work with normal mannequins,” Van Beirendonck said. “So I took that idea as the starting point. We made the complete collection in miniature.”
Petites mains in Antwerp crafted the tiny garments. In his fashion video, those are presented on dolls created by former student Eli Effenberge in Tokyo. Van Beirendonck designed their makeup looks, as he does for models on the runway, and set the presentation to Perfume Genius tracks.
Van Beirendonck dubbed the collection “Mirror,” which brought to mind mirrors used in shaman rituals. “It’s also kind of an entrance to a new world,” he said. “I had a feeling that would fit very well in the atmosphere of today.”
It did. There were 22 looks, with some featuring removable mirrors. Mirrors gave that parka a stiff aspect.
Van Beirendonck conceived “ghost prints” appearing on pieces like a mesh shirt. “With all the skin discussions going on, I wanted to work with blue and pink — very surreal body colors,” he explained.
The designer used polyester from Japan for suits, giving a crisp, sharp silhouette. Conversely, voluminous outerwear was made of fringed nylon resembling fur.
The collection was abbreviated, yet complete, and allowed for Van Beirendonck’s deft hand to shine through.