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In the beautiful fall collection he showed on Wednesday, Dries Van Noten displayed his considerable skill at combining patterns, textures and materials. Here, one of his remarkable blends: a multicolored sweater with a fur piece at its neck, worn with long leather gloves and bangles strung into a necklace.
This story first appeared in the February 28, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Dries Van Noten is known for his mixes of textures and motifs, while Karl Lagerfeld’s calling card is controlled chic. Each designer put his unique stamp on a strong fall collection.
Dries Van Noten: No gray flannels here. Not content to merely color his woman’s world, Dries Van Noten wants to marbleize, flower, engineer, bead and sequin it with remarkable style. Which is what he did for fall to exquisite effect.
Van Noten approached the season feeling that he hadn’t explored spring’s print motif to its fullest, so he made trips to Switzerland and Lyon to scour the archives of the great fabric houses. He came away with rich material, including an old wax printing motif, discoveries he incorporated into his own fabric development, ending with a remarkable assortment so intense — some single prints feature 40 colors — it could easily have exploded into a great big head-spinning mess.
Yet for all the euphoria of its materials — even the sequins were printed — a determined control marks Van Noten’s work, which is why the visual opulence never turned gratuitous. Even when prints were combined in layers or within a single garment, there was never a sense of the slightest disorder, let alone of mayhem. The clothes had a refinement that was more than the sum of their colors. Tunics floated gracefully over skirts or pants; serenely shaped column dresses cut to midcalf featured different motifs at torso and hem. Sweaters with webby or graphic constructions lent a cozy side to the pattern play, while the flou of mousseline and chiffon was kept in check under tailored jackets and aged-looking furs.
Certainly the collection had its share of eccentricity; where else have you seen bangle bracelets strung in multiples and tied into necklaces? But Van Noten never sacrificed chic for shenanigans, which resulted in a near-perfect fusion of both with urbanity.
Karl Lagerfeld: Karl Lagerfeld is in control. While that’s not exactly a news flash, on Wednesday morning, it made for a smart, finely honed collection devoid of the more flamboyant flourishes he sometimes works into his mix. The approach proved a savvy call in this season of trendy restraint. Yet, rather than play to the overtly lady-fied side of the mood, Lagerfeld took it his way with terrific tailoring more befitting a latter-day power woman than a chichi type, and the clothes looked great.
The foundation was a men’s wear inspiration, and almost everything was black, refined and lean. Within that framework, two key ideas went off in different directions, sometimes in the same outfit: Dark, matching jackets and shirts punctuated by a bow tie or two were all no-nonsense austerity, while Lagerfeld’s favorite skirt, narrow through the hips but with a kicky pleated border, swung a bit flirtatious. The outerwear displayed a similar counterpoint. While, for day, Lagerfeld went trim and shapely, for evening, he preferred the coziness of cropped quilted kimono jackets bordered in fur over pants or languid skirts.