(c) Photography: Ronald Stoops
fairy tales
Walter Van Beirendonck S/S 2006
Relics From the Future,
Photography: Ronald Stoops, Make-up: Inge Grognard

Technology and techniques or craftsmanship form the subject in Techno Crafts. The tension between the two is central to numerous collections. In the W.&L.T. collections, Van Beirendonck enjoyed experimenting with high-tech fabrics and state-of-the-art materials, such as neoprene, reflecting fabrics and glow-in-the-dark materials. Prints were treated with perfume so that a print of a strawberry literally smelled like strawberries. Light and sound effects were incorporated in the clothing and the production of a plastic, inflatable jacket imitating a muscleman torso was a technical tour de force. Thanks to Mustang’s large budgets, extensive professional team and outstanding Italian manufacturers, Van Beirendonck had the opportunity to indulge in the most outlandish experiments, using exceptional materials such as rubber, latex or plastic. During the same period, Van Beirendonck was part of the Brussels Starlab, a multidisciplinary think tank that not only conducted research into new media, nano electronics, artificial intelligence and stem cell research, but also conducted research into intelligent clothing.

When the collaboration with Mustang came to an end, Van Beirendonck returned to more traditional techniques. His first collection from this period, No References (autumnwinter 1999–2000), is an experiment in form pushed to the limits, in which he used traditional tailoring techniques to create new forms, always keeping it in perspective with the characteristic Van Beirendonck humour.

Beginning with Sexclown (spring-summer 2008), Van Beirendonck incorporated threedimensional effects into his tailoring. In Sexclown, this is still in the form of box-shaped volumes, almost literally borrowed from the shields (Maiva) used in Papua New Guinea. In subsequent collections, the 3-D effects are more subtle, in the form of reversible collars, bows or stitched-on pockets. In this theme, ethnology is once again a source of inspiration, in this case in the form of techniques and materials, for example in the incorporation of straw and raffia or bead and appliqué embroidery. Embroidery, from appliqué to ajour embroidery, is found in virtually every collection.