Walter Van Beirendonck
June 25, 2014 Paris
There is no one else who can spark such dark thoughts with such seemingly joyous clothes. This show ended with models reconfigured as exotic tribal birdmen, their faces bifurcated by huge beaks. On one side of the divide, they were painted in monochrome, on the other, bright colors. WVB imagined surveillance cameras confused by the split, in the same way that warships in WWII were painted with op-art "dazzle camouflage." But he was also thinking about Papua New Guinea, a longtime fascination, and how aboriginal cultures grant a totemic significance to ordinary objects from the West. Sitting in the audience at a WVB show, you were compelled to reflect on the way the same fetishizing impulse applies to our own culture. What is fashion, after all? The collage of bits and pieces—an epaulette of golden fringes, a bridal veil, a pussycat, an orange, an AK-47—that decorated WVB's clothes were as random or as meaningful as we wanted them to be. Only one thing was certain: Big Brother's all-seeing CCTV eye would be able to make no sense at all of them, and in that thought, there was some kind of perverse reassurance.