DRESSING YOU IN...
Walter Van Beirendonck: A designer who gave ravers a second skin
When it comes to the techno world in the 80s and 90s fashion designs must be mentioned. The generations of this era have succeeded in creating a perfect stereotype that survived for decades shaping the elements about the raving life of techno music we know today. Youth wanted to break free from the rules that used to take control over fashion, music, and lifestyle. The appearance of the techno genre coincided with the appearance of the different fashion designs that broke all the rules of its time.
The story behind the team
Walter van Beirendonck is one of the fashion designers who made a drastic difference in the fashion making of this time. After Walter graduated from the Royal Arts Academy in Antwerp, he managed to establish the ‘Antwerp Six’ team which revolutionized the 80s fashion. Together with his team, Beirendonck created new elements that characterized the raving world of his time. Face masks, bright colors, and neoprene were easily recognized in nightclubs. One of his strongest hits was the ‘hardbeat’ collection that took place in 1989 which mainly depended on fake fur, knitwear, and knee-length platform boots.
When Beirendonck’s fashion label W. & L.T. took place on stage during the Paris menswear season, causing a future shock. The inflatable jackets that came in fluorescent colors besides the computer and hologram prints were totally new. In this fashion show, Walter usedAfro wigs and animal face masks. He managed to express the youth in his own creative futuristic way. This fashion show gave him the global characteristics that define him now.
Walter’s deep interest in technology appeared in most of his designs that included high-tech, reflecting fabrics. His printed projects were treated with perfume so that the print would smell as it looks. He also included light and sound effects in his artistic fashion designs such as suits that glow when you breathe. It was catchy back then to rock the party wearing an inflatable jacket imitating a muscle man's torso. Such crazy ideas mixed with technology drove the ravers crazy about this type of fashion. Walter and Frank Schutte used to mix different elements together, including folklore prints with urban graffiti messages, shiny techno fabrics with soft ones, tuzzy nylon with other materials, and also sportswear that was transformed into clubwear.
A continuous set of rituals used to take place in Beirendonck’s ideas and designs like animals, fairy tales, ethnicity, and sex. He used to dress men in animal fake fur. Also, men in skin-tight latex used to appear in his fashion shows. It was promoting safe sex, AIDs awareness, and obviously fun. That’s why the ravers of his time feel that he enabled them to grow a second skin.
Walter’s new-high tech fabrics and slogans like ‘Kiss the Future’ allowed the raving community to express themselves more openly. The screaming colors and materials that Walter used came expressive of the people wearing it regardless of gender.
The relation between Walter Beirendonck and techno music was exceptional. He loved tech-fabrics in a time where ravers were interested in the future. It was a time when the future was the new fetish. That’s how their interests met. After his successful Hardbeat collection in 1989, mostly every raver wore Walter’s multi-color bike shirt because of its comfortable feel and catchy appearance. Raving fashion helped dissolve the distinction between the public and the private raving parties that used to take place in warehouses and private fields back at that time. It gave the ravers an visible identity and a fashion line that expressed what they thought and how they wanted to live. Beirendonck’s fashion ideas came in the best interests of eighties and nineties ravers. It gave them the second skin they wanted to have.