What can we say about Dries Van Noten? How can we possibly write about him? The Master of Prints. The King of Effortless Elegance. Charles once said it was quasi impossible to write about his work because it was hard to put in words the feeling we got when watching his collections. Something between Sublime, Subtle & Sophisticated. We tried several times to write about him or about the wonderful exhibition we visited a few years ago at Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, but we couldn't. As if the subject were way too big for us. We can remember last year when we walked past his flagship store in Antwerp, how we felt. This mixed feeling of fascination, respect and timidity we felt. We did not enter. We did not want to disturb.
His Autumn Winter 2017/18 is an impressive collection coming from the very bottom of his heart and celebrating his 100th runway show. What he has achieved in all these years in the Fashion industry is truly phenomenal; can you imagine that he is still the owner of his label, as independent as when he was a young designer coming from the legendary Antwerp Six? Just for that, Dries Van Noten deserves a special & comfortable seat in the Fashion Pantheon. This 100th collection needed to be special and it was! All Dries Van Noten's favourite models (and such iconic names as Amber Valetta, Carolyn Murphy, Guinevere Van Seenus, Erin O'Connor, Liya Kebede, Sasha Pivovarova and so many more!) were here to celebrate this oustanding designer who has a unique place in the fashion landscape. A viral casting of women of all colors & ages wearing clothes with a soul & a heart. For the occasion, the Belgian designer revamped all his most famous prints, mixed them to create new ones, for a spectacular result, a riot of colors & patterns. The Past & Present merging to imagine what the future will be. Icons of the Fashion sphere meeting the next ones (Julia Nobis, Mica Arganaraz, Hanne Gaby Odiele...) for the most lyrical & moving collection we've seen in a while!
This collection is all about prints or should we say prints on prints on prints, and the result is stunning! Everything is working perfectly well. They may look complex, the general impression is effortless. Dries's prints are a statement; they are vivid, bold, vibrant, unique, fresh and are definitely telling a story. Yesterday, we wrote that John Galliano for Maison Margiela is a genuine storyteller not following trends but rather imagining them. We feel the same with Dries Van Noten and that's why he needs to be cherished & protected. With this AW17/18 collection, he is looking backward without nostalgia but with a general sense of accomplishment, in the most humble way. These prints are an ode to the brand's heritage and are bringing a lot of drama on the runway. Just like the garments actually. A boyish tailoring, slightly oversize, cool, elegant, a bit eccentric (but in the softest way), shimmering with accents of faux fur. The women walking this collection are free, powerful beautiful, intriguing and are triggering an intense emotion -the insane soundtrack with David Bowie or an extract from the 2046 soundtrack for instance is also largely contributing to it-. Fashion history is unfolding before our eyes; that's what we call the Emotion of Fashion. Crying for Fashion, in front of such a show is a weird but delicious feeling.
Pictures by Lillie Eiger for Dazed
Dries Van Noten designs clothes that have something to say. Clothes with feelings. They are crafted in Belgium and are the ultimate proof that craft will always prevail over trends. We deeply respect him for his unique status, for his independence, his savoir-faire and his freedom. It is an essential concept in Fashion yet not so many designers & labels have this freedom to create what they really want to. Designing "only" 4 collections a year when you're both a menswear & womenswear designer is the ultimate luxury! But sometimes you don't need more when your unique goal is to make men & women feel unique, strong & beautiful. To the next 100, Mr Van Noten! RESPECT!
Picture by Nick Delieto for LOVE
Words by Yann Sackville-West & Charles Margueritte