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Walter Van Beirendonck AW17 Menswear Paris Dazed
Backstage at Walter Van Beirendonck AW17Photography Lucie Rox

Austrian pagan band crash Walter Van Beirendonck’s AW17 show

Wearing monster masks and giant horns, the musicians delivered a message to a ‘dying world’ at Paris Fashion Week

One of the Antwerp Six and the designer of consistently conceptual and politicised collections, Walter Van Beirendonck has never played by the rules. Yesterday, he kicked off Paris Fashion Week with a show that left a powerful impression on those present to watch.

The show started off with the sound of drumming and, as the curtain dropped, the source of the noise became clear: a band wearing moster masks, giant horns and elaborate costumes constructed from hay playing on metal drums.

“They’re an amazing group from Austria,” the designer said backstage after the show. “In fact, they are performing this kind of folk tradition which in that country is very popular. They came over to do this.”

The collection itself, like many before it from the designer, contained a message about the state of the world. His AW16 collection was titled Woest meaning “furious” in his native Flemish and this season’s was called Zwart which means black. 

“This collection is about healing the world and thinking about how we can eventually find a solution (to its problems),” he explained. “The collection is called ‘Black’ because for me, we are in a black moment – the world is dying. That’s why I wanted to add all these ingredients about paganism, ritual and animals. These things can add a contribution to the world.”

Themes about paganism and ritual featured in the collection in motifs of the all-seeing eye, large bears and graphics that bore resemblance to the work of Dutch renaissance painter Heironymous Bosch. Models also donned enlarged gloves and patterned headscarves along with military style straps and camoflague print made up of leaves, which perhaps suggested a more peaceful form of resistance. 

Watch a clip from the show below: