Another battered building in mid-renovation as a location for Dries Van Noten and a truly excellent collection whose strength centered on the subtle art of juxtaposition.
Classical active sports ideas – tennis, cricket and rugby – blended with more ladylike silhouettes in a remarkably fresh collection. One which will influence high-street and editorial spreads more than any other next year.
“Familiar and unfamiliar. Things you really know – chino, denim and rugby stripes – often inspired by 1920s sportswear, but paired unexpectedly,” explained Van Noten post-show. Referring to the sports bras that accompanied oversized parkas; trench-coats made with rugby club broad stripes; or striped pants worn with sparklingly embroidered duster.
“Many elements completely upside down, inside out. As I really wanted the focus to be on daywear. Clothes that you could throw in a washing machine. Though if we go embellishment we go all the way, but in places you don’t expect,” smiled Dries, mentioning the crystal-studded, diamanté high heels.
Van Noten also experimented with a couple of couture worthy denim looks, from WW1 field-marshal’s coat to a pagoda jacket. All technically tricky, since he stone washed these garments, which upset the interior horsehair.
Even the music was sensational, Too Many DJs mashing up spoken words by the likes of Madonna, Bjork, Billie Halliday and Dries’ local dry cleaner with orchestral lush rock, whose leitmotif was Tonight by Smashing Pumpkins. One day, someone will curate an exhibition of runway show soundtracks, a surprisingly obscure modern art form. And this work of sound architecture will have pride of place.
Van Noten took his bow to deafening applause. Scores of people yelling, bravo! A little surprised, almost bashful, but with the content smile of a designer who knows he has just hit a home run.
Now, if you ask that small, but not discontent nor aggrieved, minority in the fashion industry, straight guys, in which designer they would want their date to show up, the answer this season must be Dries Van Noten. This will be the most dateable collection of 2024.
Undercover: Neo Rauch romanticism
Not many people in fashion are more respected than Jun Takahashi of Undercover, a designer’s designer who marches to his own zanily beautiful beat.
Like the end of his show on Wednesday evening in Montparnasse. A trio of bubble skirts, illuminated inside to reveal miniature pink and white rose gardens alive with fluttering butterflies.
Pretty well every look suggested magic. Notably his long opening series of remarkably delicate veiling, covering sleek suits, and patchwork blazers made in panels of chalk-stripe, gabardine, dove gray wool and gauze.
All leading to evening, and some stupendous printed gowns. Taken and photoshopped from German artist Neo Rauch’s historic religious oil paintings – they amalgamated images of saints, scholars, sailors and savants.
“Deleting everything that I felt from regarding Rauch’s historical painting. Cleaning the mind,” explained Takahashi, who speaks no English, and whose bon mots often get lost in translation.
Rauch’s images taking over the show with oversized pajama looks, bold bankers’ suits, silk blouses and summer trenches.
“My dream was a movie where people from your past come to a town and bring past memories back like a ghost,” explained the sibylline Jun, with all the reticence of Greek oracle.
Before smiling and adding: “When I go, I want to become a ninja!” `
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