Walter Van Beirendonck certainly has a cult following, and as is tradition, it has its rites, twice a year for its initiates. This was made more evident than ever this time around, as the curtains pulled back to reveal the Austrian troupe Seidä Pass, kitted out in costumes that evoked one part Alpine horned animals, one part Sashquatch with a dash-crash-bang of devilish percussive music on home-made instruments – one guest muttered vaguely alarmed about the mop-beasts tootting and harumphing.
He cuts a mean suit, the Belgian legend, and that’s not something that is likely to ever change. In his ideas, he never stays passive, or countenance blandness. « Zwart » was the name of this collection, and it added to the impression that this was a collection cruising for a bruising, at a protest or for sport. Giant gloves encased the hands before leaving them free once again. The scarves which obscured model’s faces certainly contributed to that impression, as did the camouflage details – up close, distinct drawings of leaves in autumnal hues – and shoulder coverings.
Flanked by a pair of heraldic supporters (possibly a wolf and a bear), his diminutive effigy of a glass bottle shaped like a man filled with red liquid and with visible genitalia pointed to a certain fragility, a lack of stature due to the scale. If you’re not supposed to throw rocks in glass houses, hollow men made of the stuff shouldn’t either.
There’s always an edge to Van Beirendonck’s fantasy, some dystopian reality that he reveals through his decorative work. The scrying was revealing an idea. As the Pan-like figure marshaled his troupe into a crescendo, T.S. Eliot’s poem came to mind. At a time where the world slides into a darker place, the hands of the Doomsday clock clicking ever closer to midnight, it’s time for those gloves to come off, before the world goes to hell « not with a bang but with a whimper ».