Walter Van Beirendonck is one of fashion's true mavericks. Graduating from Belgium's Royal Arts Academy in 1980, he was one of the illustrious 'Antwerp Six' - alongside Dries Van Noten, Dirk Bikkembergs, Ann Demeulemeester, Marina Yee and Dirk Van Saene (his partner of 30 years) - who together disseminated a radical new aesthetic and placed Antwerp firmly on the fashion map. Now the
Antwerp Fashion Museum (MoMu) is celebrating the 54-year-old designer's three decades at the cutting edge with the first ever large-scale retrospective of his work, entitled 'Dream the World Awake'.
Describing himself as a 'storyteller' who has always conceived his catwalk shows in tandem with his collections - rather than as an afterthought - Van Beirendonck never shies away from combining politics with fashion, tackling issues like the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, Aids and mass consumerism. The MoMu exhibition looks back at some of his notable triumphs, including his spectacular shows in Paris in the 1990s under the W.&L.T. (Wild and Lethal Trash) label as well as various projects beyond the catwalk - such as designing the costumes for U2's PopMart tour in 1997.
Van Beirendonck has collaborated with stylist Simon Foxton and photographer and SHOWstudio.com founder Nick Knight to create a new photography and video project especially for the exhibition. A hardback 240-page exhibition catalogue will also be available through Lannoo Publishers (Dutch) and ACC (English), its arresting contents revealing a designer whose work can be playful, iconoclastic and unsettling - but never boring.