at first glance, walter van beirendonck's most recent collection seem to be surprisingly tame for someone who is notorious for marching to the beat of his own drum. to see suiting (in traditional check patterns at that!) and shearling lined parkas worn with something as timid as a pique polo, that even when topped off with giant plastic earmuffs courtesy of milliner genius stephen jones, it was almost disappointing in its apparent lack of the mind boggling visual assault of his previous collection. no penis shaped masks, or tubular exoskeletons, nor big bird wings. not even big furry men as models. but as one of the infamous antwerp six who challenged the popular opinions of fashion in the eighties with their avant garde and belgian sensibilities, one has to realize that despite of its modest and cartoonish appearance, this collection was packed with van beirendonck's subversive take on the violent state of the world. amidst the colourful sweatshirts with keith harring-like illustrations were guns and tanks, a scarf that was shaped as a missile in flight and "w"s that signified war printed on sweaters in big, bold captial letters. when asked what it was that prompted him towards this direction the designer replied by saying that nowadays he always feels like someone is holding a gun to his head and that world feels like its always ready to explode. given the seriousness of the issue it shouldn't be taken as the designer taking a lighthearted approach to such a weighty topic. as one of the most underrated genius in the business, it takes someone with an intellect like van beirendonck with a deft hand with communicating austere issues that makes him one of the most provocative designers in world.