“The first Walter Van Beirendonck catwalk show, 25 minutes of complete chaos followed by an incredible ovation.”
The first time I met Walter was in 1988, when I was working as a press officer for Moschino, based between Milan and Paris. I was 24 and very curious; I was always looking for something new in the milieu. And I came across this collection on the Italian scene that was quite extraordinary, a sportswear collection with sweatshirts in luminous colours with jacquard and animal prints. The brand was called Rhinosaurus Rex, I did some research and found out that the guy behind it was a young Belgian designer called Walter Van Beirendonck. I asked to meet him but was working under an exclusive contract with Moschino so I couldn’t do much to promote him at the time. We had to wait until 1991 when I started my own press office, Totem, a little business that represented a dozen designers. The intention was always to unveil the best designers to the best fashion magazines. It was the ideal moment to work together because he’d just launched his own brand “W<”, a line destined for a younger tech-savvy generation, with incredible visual codes: bright colours, neoprene, latex, clothes borrowing from the sports world like cycling t-shirts. In one word, revolutionary! His first show at the Lido was a triumph; a hoard of 40 models walked the runway to screaming techno music before the journalists - Suzy Menkes, Hamish Bowles – had even had a chance to sit down. It was 25 minutes of total chaos and then an incredible standing ovation. Walter’s career was launched.