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Queer(ing) tailoring: Walter Van Beirendonck and the glorious bastardization of the suit

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Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck is internationally known for his original and critical approach to menswear, using fashion as an arena to discuss social and political issues. This ‘Antwerp Six’ member, however, still seems to be under-represented in fashion studies scholarship. Therefore, this article aims to offer an investigation of Van Beirendonck’s sartorial practices through an analysis of his queer approach to tailoring. Consequently, the article focuses on the historical and material meanings of the suit in the making of normative and hegemonic masculinity, and how the designer has been capable of opening up a material critical discussion of these meanings through the queering of the suit’s design, surface and styling. Beyond being the first academic investigation on Walter Van Beirendonck’s tailoring, the article aims to contribute to broadening the knowledge on Belgian fashion, particularly the Antwerp fashion scene and its ways of dealing with the concepts of fashion, body and gender identity.
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Keywords: Antwerp fashion; Walter Van Beirendonck; contemporary menswear; critical fashion; queering; tailoring; the suit

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000107903681University of Antwerp

Publication date: June 1, 2020

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  • Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty is the first journal dedicated to the critical examination of the fashion and the beauty systems as symbolic spaces of production and reproduction, representation and communication of artifacts, meanings, social practices, and visual or textual renditions of cloth, clothing and appearance.

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