Expect weird things from IKEA’s collaboration with this iconic Belgian fashion designer

Walter Van Beirendonck isn’t afraid to get weird.
Walter Van Beirendonck isn’t afraid to get weird.
Image: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images
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To launch a new series of collaborations with fashion designers, IKEA is working with the famously strange, iconic Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck, who protested terrorism and censorship in his last show by sending clothing adorned with large, colorful butt plugs down the runway. He’s also made shoes decorated with penises and giant hats shaped, again, like penises.

His project for IKEA is far less phallic—and even downright innocent. In a video posted to YouTube, Van Beirendonck describes the inspiration for the five textile prints he’s creating for the Swedish furniture company. They’re based on a story he dreamt up about people called the Wondermooi, which translates to “beautiful” in Flemish.

I came up with a story about characters living in the clouds, and the sun and the moon, which were very sad because there was so much going wrong in the world. And they’re crying and big tears are falling down and the clouds get big holes. And the cloud people, which are the Wondermooi people, they really started to panic. “What’s going on? Our clouds are broken!” That story in fact became a story with different characters, different figures, and also at the end different patterns. 

To fashion insiders, Van Beirendonck is an icon. He was part of the fabled “Antwerp Six,” the group of stylistically disparate Belgian designers, including Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester, that caused a sensation when they all showed in London in 1987. He also gave Dior creative director Raf Simons his first job in fashion. Simons, who studied industrial design, interned for Van Beirendonck while he was still working out his career path, and the experience helped guide him toward clothing design.

So what can IKEA customers expect when the collaboration hits stores in June 2016? It’s impossible to guess.

But it’s worth noting that Van Beirendonck hasn’t, so far, dialed back the weirdness just because he’s working with a major corporation. Case in point: Here’s the car he customized for Nissan for the 2004 Brussels International Auto Show.

Belgian fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck launches a customised Nissan Micra at the Brussels International Auto Show on January 13, 2004. The benefits of Van Beirendonck's car sale will be donated to a hospital in the research to fight Aids. The car show, which runs from January 15 to January 25, is expected to attract about 750,000 visitors.
Teeth and crest come standard.
Image: Reuters/Yves Herman