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Walter Van Beirendonck selects Antwerp's new wave

The Belgian visionary showcases five emerging designers shaking up the Antwerp fashion scene

To celebrate the Outsiders issue of Dazed, we invite you into the subversive and hyper-real world of Walter Van Beirendonck. From an exclusive head to head interview with his former intern Craig Green, to never before seen archive images, this is our love letter to the visionary Belgian designer. 

“I have this big fantasy that I can easily get into the heads of these people and guide them from that way out," Walter Van Beirendonck told us of his role as fashion director of The Antwerp Academy of Fine Arts in the outsiders issue of Dazed. "It’s not that I tell them what to do, but it’s important for me to keep their identities and what they stand for.” Although he's renowned for his boundary-crossing designs, he's dedicated much of his career to supporting the next generation of creatives emerging from Antwerp – with notable past interns including Raf Simons. As part of Walter Van Beirendonck Day, we asked him to select five of the most exciting new designers on the Belgian fashion scene. 

Why is Antwerp so exciting for fashion right now?

Minju Kim: Even though Antwerp is known for the Antwerp Six, it still isn’t seen as a fashion design capital, like Paris or Milan. There’s something about Antwerp that attracts me. I like how it’s calm, but is still so inspiring in so many different ways. Antwerp’s fashion culture of both old and new is never far away.

How do you feel that you disturb the fashion status quo?

Minju Kim: Causing a disturbance in fashion isn’t my purpose at all – my creative decisions are what I personally like. My job is design, so I let the critics, and Dazed, do the theorising. If I am causing a disturbance I don’t see it as negative; reactions are important in fashion.

What is your most memorable moment as an intern for Walter Van Beirendonck and why?

Devon Halfnight Leflufy: The thing that has always blown my mind is the precision of his vision. What he draws in his sketchbook, from head to toe, is what goes on the runway.  He knows exactly what he wants and at the same time is constantly changing season to season. Seeing this up close just opened my eyes to what was possible.

Tell us about your long term cyber-culture inspirations, how do these infiltrate into your current work?

Devon Halfnight Leflufy: I just love the Internet and technology, but it doesn’t come out in the way you would expect.  I don't mess with 3D printing or hyper technological fabrics. I just think that the Internet is the major social phenomenon of this generation and it articulates so many things about how we interact with ourselves.

How do you feel that you disturb the fashion status quo?

Andrea Cammarosano: To begin with, I don't buy fast fashion, and I don’t listen to soundbites or clothes-bites. I don’t care about the status-quo, because I find it sterile and self-destructing. Everywhere around there is fertile soil, so if something will want to grow, it will grow – there’s no doubt about it!

Why is Antwerp so exciting for fashion right now?

Andrea Cammarosano: Antwerp has been exciting for a long time! The creativity is electric, yet profound. Here, the kids in fashion have the feeling that what they do is important. Today derivativeness, approximation and amateurism are often celebrated, therefore it’s important to do the opposite, to embrace your discipline with fun, but also rigour and passion. Walter is the perfect example of someone who is dead serious yet warm and passionate about his mission as an artist and a designer; this is what he demands from his students, and this is what makes Antwerp so special

Tell us about your 'there is no limit to cuteness' approach?

Niels Peeraer: With gender I just don’t have these huge walls in my head that divide us from one another. I realise there are physical boundaries we have, but if a man wears a skirt or big accessories, that has nothing to do with the physical differences we have. In explanation to my label’s motto ‘there is no limit to cuteness’: Cuteness is seriously undervalued in Western society. If something or someone is ‘too’ cute it immediately loses credibility or won’t be taken serious. For me there is no limit to bringing cuteness into people’s lives and bringing this sweet happiness we feel when we see something cute. Which is why Japan is such a continuous source of inspiration to me; they’re not scared to go all the way.

Who is your most loved fashion outsider and why?

Weber Hodel Feder: Walter Pfeiffer for remaining such a well kept secret for decades, radically influencing fashion photography.