Monsters and animals are having a moment in fashion right now. You just need to look at the success of the the 'Arrrgh – Monsters in Fashion' exhibition, the hoopla surrounding Craig Green, or the uptake of Fendi's fun furry creatures to see that the fashion pack loves a bit of beasting. But Walter Van Beirendonck in the king of growlers, he's been merging man and colourful creature for years - and remember, Green cut his teeth with Van Beirendonck before starting his own label - so his decision to title his A/W 14 collection 'Crossed Crocodiles Growl' seemed both in keeping with the zeitgeist and in tune to what he does best.
Despite the prevalence of fun pieces like coats with triangular teeth running up the zip, fluffy Big Bird yellow coats and jumpers emblazoned with human faces and tassel-effect beards, this wasn't all cartoons and comedy, the depth to this collection, and indeed the biggest references to what's happening in the world right now, came in the messages - freedom, colour, confidence, acceptance. These were most obvious in the slogans scrawled across Stephen Jones' towering hats - huge and feathered, almost like the jazzier, mad younger brother of those stunning Vuitton showgirls headdresses he created for Marc Jacob's last collection - and shaved into models' hair by Charlie Le Mindu. That was where this angry 'crocodile' really growled - rilling against all the prejudice in the world right now with an army of rainbow soldiers (he's looking at you, Russia). But then Van Beirendonck has never been one to tone things down - indeed, after the show, Jones joked, 'Walter kept telling me he just wanted the hats to be bigger and bigger and I had to explain to him that you can't get birds with feathers that big! He'll have to breed a new one!' Well, feathers aside, the ideas in this collection were big, bold and beautiful. A snappy collection for A/W 14 then.