Walter Van Beirendonck is a fundamental mark in the Paris Fashion Week calendar, guaranteed to shock, stir, and start a dialogue on the boundary between fashion and the theatrical. For the seminal designer’s Spring/Summer 2023 runway show, which debuted at the Theatre de la Madeleine last night, his usual antics played out in a dramatic reenactment of two acts that showed progressive designs influenced by the past and future.
Act I saw 12 looks shielded in black cloaks that were magically lifted into the abyss to reveal the designer’s stronger work this season. A white mac coat was accentuated with ruffles and popper pockets, billowing at the hem for a floaty aesthetic that went onto inspire much of the collection. Following up with a black patent leather mac, pleated ruffles and boxy extended shoulder padding and chamfered lines cut the jacket into three dimensions, adding volume to the outerwear.
16th Century ruffled collars clashed with slogan tank tops and curtain rail looped skirts, while another shrouded look oozed gladiator realness with its metallic gold leather accessories and white ruffled tank top complete with box pleating. But as the show went on into Act II, Walter Van Beirendonck’s nods to sportswear and kinks unraveled — specifically with Look 16, a long john unitard one-piece ensemble that saw the model wear another Shakespearean ruffled collar alongside a Silence of the Lamb‘s Hannibal Lecter-esque jockstrap facemask.
Cut-out leather jackets showed skin while complementing baggy trousers consumed the legs in its volume, and later on in the collection the designer’s usual playful touch of color infiltrated geometric designs that were geared toward sportswear. However, the theater of it all was continuously heightened thanks to a Power Rangers green face-mask-top number, the sparkling green glittered blazer, and shirts that sported capes.
Walter Van Beirendonck ended on a contrastingly simple look: a T-shirt adorned with the word “Peace,” sitting alongside bow-tied technical shorts and metallic gold leather ankle boots. Take a look at the Walter Van Beirendonck SS23 collection above, and find more Paris Fashion Week coverage on HYPEBEAST.
In case you missed it, check out Matthew M Williams’ Givenchy SS23 menswear show.