Never mind that he just sold his company to Puig. For Dries Van Noten, fashion is personal. “The way you gesture, the way that you stand…” he said postshow. “It is an attitude, [which] can be also quite negative, but I love people who can have an attitude.”
And people with attitude — read: confident, adult women — are Van Noten’s primary constituency. They love fashion and acknowledge trends that make sense for them, but never go crazy. Van Noten gets it.
He also gets casualization and a good contrast. A master of the latter, for fall he started with a category he loves: workwear. “What is more beautiful?” he queried, playing the collection against couture references, which he kept in careful check. “I don’t want to make couture, I like to make clothes,” Van Noten said, almost contradicting his own oppositional construct. Almost. Van Noten is a pragmatist with a yen for the outsized flourish of the haute variety, and incorporated some references here.
But as always, Van Noten started with function. There, too, he wielded his hand deftly, sometimes with full pieces — anoraks, pocketed popovers, utility coats — and sometimes with the addition of big pockets on coats or skirts. The couture touches came mostly in the extras such as crystal-fringed epaulets and yokes added to coats and dresses, and a flurry of feathers. They came both real, used with particular bravado in bright colors on shoes, and overtly fake, made of plastic to suggest the real thing while delivering a distinctly modernist edge and a hint of mockery. In one feisty look, a canary-yellow faux-feathered skirt popped from beneath a crisp white and wide-striped sweater. Van Noten also paid homage to the genre with some beautifully draped dresses and skirts.
While this collection employed Van Noten’s well-defined signatures, it felt different than much of his work
While there was plenty going on, here Van Noten downplayed his typical exotica, particularly in the patterns, favoring clean stripes and checks along with a range of pretty florals from delicate to bold. And much of the palette was overtly upbeat, with an emphasis on blues and yellows, often on a white ground. It all felt fresh and, despite Van Noten’s stated affinity for “attitude,” perhaps a little younger than usual. But then, youth is an attitude, too.