You could write a book about the names Walter Van Beirendonck has given his collections over the years, so laden with ambiguous promise—or threat—have they been. The latest, Home Sweet Home, began with literally gilded youths sissified in pastels and foulards like a Bosie Douglas for the 21st century—confusing at first, but soon it became clear that the title actually spelled out the story of the show in a straightforward way. It was an ingenious salute to the house Van Beirendonck and his partner, Dirk Van Saene, share in a village outside Antwerp.
So a pair of silken trousers was printed with a carpet pattern that also appeared on a T-shirt, where a table with a vase of flowers sat in splendid trompe l'oeil. A similar image woven tapestry-like into a jacket projected the flowers into full 3-D bloom. Another replaced the vase with a toy horse. Van Beirendonck reproduced the pattern of a couch cover on a dinner jacket, and re-created walls with the art hanging in situ, just like at home. The work of American folk artist Scooter LaForge was recognizable from the painting he'd supplied for the invitation.
These were obvious showpieces, with the concept extended to Katrantzou-like levels of complexity. But, as artful as the execution was, Van Beirendonck never lost track of the fact that he was making clothes first and foremost. This was clearest in suits and coats in angular color-blocks of pastel. Though they were actually abstract renditions of spaces in Van Beirendonck's house, they came across as a fresh take on tailoring.
Walterites will be pleased to hear that Van Beirendonck, who often insinuates radical social messages into his work, doesn't go soft when he goes home. His shoes were decked with proudly erect phallic symbols, and the Lurex socks that slipped into them were embroidered with phalli, too—and birds and snails, which also seemed redolent of some sexual Shakespearean subtext. And Stephen Jones put long, hard bills on the raffia caps he supplied for the collection.