Every season needs its different drummers. Dries Van Noten muscled his way to the top of that list for spring with a beautifully realized ode to French chic that took a world tour to achieve.
Van Noten loves his prints. This time out, rather than develop his own, he embarked on a far-flung museum tour in search of fabrics indigenous to numerous ethnicities. He commissioned Japanese kimono fabrics, Indian saris, Chinese embroideries, royal Java batiks (you can tell they’re royal by their large-scale patterns), ikats from Uzbekistan that traveled two days by donkey to the nearest DHL stop and even some fare from the Lyon locals. The pastiche motif included, Van Noten said the day before his show, incorporating “occidental elements and Parisian chic, and in the end to forget it all and make a nice outfit. That’s what it’s all about, no?”
That’s what it’s about, yes. Van Noten succeeded brilliantly, with a range as diverse as a cropped sweater over a short sari skirt with a dramatic floor-grazing drape; a strong-shouldered jacket lavishly embroidered in silver over orange-and-gold pants, and a cropped trench jacket over silk jacquard walking shorts. That’s because, despite all the optical goings-on, Van Noten achieved a certain discretion, thanks to a mostly earthy palette, cleanliness of cut, including a big emphasis on shirts, and strategic use of the plain, as in an elongated gray sweater over a multiprint dress or a pair of wide-cut khakis and a white shirt with a richly jeweled jacket. Nice outfits, indeed.