What I've Learned

My Internship at Walter Van Beirendonck

Mickey Nerrings
Thu 5 Dec

I am Mickey Nerrings, fourth-year Fashion Design student, Autonomous Practices/Hacking.

Tell us about your internship

Actually, I started my internship - and spent the first month of it - at Liselore Frowijn. Then, all of a sudden, Walter Van Beirendonck started following me on Instagram. As a matter of fact, I did apply for an internship at his label as well but did not receive any reaction afterwards. Just an automatic reply that internship period at their place was from March to September and that I'll receive a mail somewhere before that time. So, I went ahead with another label. But, when I noticed that Walter became my follower on Instagram, I worked up the courage and mailed the studio again. Walter reacted the same day, he was interested and I was invited for an interview next week.

Walter Van Beirendonck

"He cultivates a frightful persona with his chest-length ZZ-Top beard, chunky metal rings, and icy blue eyes, looking something like the leader of a motorcycle-bound renegade art collective in a zombie movie. Maybe it’s his look, but he hasn’t always gotten his due for anticipating runway trends. Before gender-bending was cool, he painted his male models’ lips and nails red. Before Rick Owens put a penis on the runway, he printed them on dresses, on underwear, on shoes. Before beards were hip, his models were hirsute. And before big was beautiful, his catwalk challenged the industry’s conventional body shapes."

Stephen Heyman/Surface Magazine, "Insider: Walter Van Beirendonck’s Guide to Antwerp". Photography: Celine Clanet, 2016

I told this to Liselore because I wanted to be honest. She answered that I had to do what was the best for me. I went ahead and had the interview at Walter's, and later, a small design assignment. And I got accepted! That was a fantastic surprise because Walter told me at the interview that around 100 candidates had applied for the internship.

So, the internship at Walter Van Beirendonck was your first choice. Why?

...for several reasons. Firstly, he is one of the leading names in fashion and is longer than 30 years in this business - I knew I could learn a lot. Then, his political statements and strong opinion about what happens in the world definitely played a role. This is something that defines my own work too. I wanted to learn how to become more expressive in my work, the way Walter manages to be in his designs. I wanted to explore his mind.

What did you learn during this internship?

Good question. And I think I did learn a lot. Especially about the prints, their placement and proportions, as well as proportions in clothes; and how to create a point of focus in the pieces of clothing. Also, as one of my strongest skills is Technical drawing, Walter asked me to do a lot of those drawings. I learned a lot from this, because Walter is normally doing them by hand, and I am doing them on the computer. Practising in this gave me a better insight into how to create a more touchable feeling in clothing, exactly the way Walter would like to have them.

Walter is always coming up with new ideas, but the nicest thing is that he lets you work it all out for yourself. We had a lot of freedom to create. And you can always bring in other ideas, and sometimes Walter will use them in his design. Still, he is the one who is making the decisions.

What didn’t you expect to learn but experienced as a bonus?

Walter Van Beirendonck works with a lot of different companies. And together with another intern, we had a lot of contact with them. Now I know where to find the good companies that are producing samples and other stuff.

Favourite moment?

Creating as a team, and seeing the huge archive. I saw a lot of great old pieces from the '80s. That was a true inspiration.

Walter Van Beirendonck returned with a collection as ingenious, disconcerting and downright outrageous as we’ve come to expect from the enfant terrible of Belgian fashion.

Kathryn O'Regan for Sleek Magazine

The biggest disappointment (if any)?

I missed Fashion Week because of illness. But I was asked to help during the January show.


Walter Van Beirendonck "Wild is the Wind" Sping-Summer Collection 2019, "Walter Van Beirendonck’s spring collection is Moonrise Kingdom meets Theatre of the Absurd" (Kathryn O'Regan for Sleek Magazine)

What kept you awake at night?

All the process that was stuck in my mind. I think with an internship like this, you become a small extension of Walter's brain.

What was the greatest obstacle?

Moving to Antwerp. I was only living for one month in Rotterdam for the internship at Liselore Frowijn. Then I had to switch to another city very quickly. So that could qualify for a little obstacle.

I can not use pictures from the studio or the making of the collection. You can visit Walter's website to view the collection I have worked on.