Antwerp designer's undying love for a muse named Ziggy
Along with Dries van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester and other Belgian talents, Walter Van Beirendonck broke onto the design scene as part of the Antwerp Six - a collective of avant garde designers graduating from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the early 80s. Best known for his outlandishly bold graphics and innovative cuts, Beirendonck cites David Bowie as the initial influence that compelled him to put pencil to paper, and start designing.
His AW13 collection, which previewed in Paris, was bursting quite literally at the seams with 70s glam references. Skinny-cut androgynous shapes, platfoom boots and blazers featuring large lightning bolts, similar to the one across Bowie’s face on the Aladdin Sane album cover, bring to life Walter’s obsession with the iconic singer and fashion trailblazer.
"My earliest memory of David Bowie was as Ziggy Stardust when I was about 14 or 15 years old. I was fascinated by Bowie as a human being, his music and his ever-changing looks. The combination of all of that was just so overwhelming to me. In that moment, I realised that image and clothes were a form of communication. Ultimately, Bowie was the reason that I got interested in fashion. I loved the codes he was playing around with and was fascinated by the messages he was communicating through his looks, interviews, live-performances and records.
Heroes was the song that cemented my obsession with Bowie
I can relate mostly to the early years of Bowie when he embodied Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke. I was a big fan of Kansai Yamamoto, and I loved the looks he created for Bowie. But it was very clear that the choice of looks and images were completely under control by Bowie himself, and that made it so special, unique and strong to me.
Bowie made me think and reflect about clothes, and the immense power they can possess. The themes he was referring to in his songs; aliens, sex, gender, stars, love, new worlds and alienation completely fascinated me. Glam Rock and Bowie changed men's fashion so not only so quickly but also so unexpectedly, and with such energy that marked a milestone in fashion.
He could do what no one else at the time could dream of doing: re-inventing himself with every new record, but in a spontaneous and genuine way! Perfectly in tune with what he wanted to express through his music."