Jul 16, 2013 12:00PM

Walter Van Beirendonck Retrospective Exhibition at RMIT

We speak with the visionary ahead of his upcoming 'Dream the World Awake' show.
SS13 shot by Dan Lecca

Fashion's dream weaver Walter Van Beirendonck approaches his craft with the curiosity of a child's imagination and the skill of a master. Working since the 80s and continuing to show in Paris, the Belgian designer has become known for his surreal aesthetic which has seen him create garments which would put Lady Gaga to shame, and collaborate with living legends like Jeurgen Teller and Nick Knight, artist Erin Wurm, and Australian designer Marc Newsom

Now the designer, who is part of the Antwerp Six, is bringing a distillation of three decades of his career to Australia in the form of his 'Dream the World Awake' exhibition. The exhibition marks his first major retrospective to be shown outside of Europe. Excitingly, it will also be the first significant international event to show at RMIT's Design Hub, the university's new purpose-built 10-storey building dedicated to all things design. As the Head of Fashion at Antwerp's Roycal Academy of Fine Arts, Walter understands the importance of sharing his vision with students.

The exhibition will be made-up of more than 70 outfits on revolving mannequins, videos of his runway shows, photographic installations, and an intriguing-sounding 8-metre long 'Wonder Wall'.

"It was very difficult to select the looks of the exhibition, mostly because I have a HUGE archive," he tells us. "I keep almost everything! A lot of collections and looks are important for myself, but someone else should say which pieces are significant for fashion history. I'm proud that I dare to experiment and that my signature is so recognisable in the fashion world... I hope that the Australian audience will step into my world, that they will enjoy it and feel my energy and love for fashion/communication."

Speaking about his broader influences, Walter tells us about the impact that glam rock had on him while growing up in the 70s. "The glam rock period happened exactly when I was a teenager; the moment I was growing up and the moment that I was discovering my sexual interests. I was fascinated by this sudden explosion of creativity in men's fashion and I loved the impact of the looks combined with the music." 

"David Bowie was my hero," he explains. "I loved his look, and the way he communicated through both image and music. It made me understand that you can tell stories through clothes, styling and image. Realising that made me decide to study fashion."

'Dream the World Awake' opens tomorrow on 17 July and will run until 5 October. Head here for more information.