Every season, one of the most definitive shows in Paris tends to be by Belgian designer Dries Van Noten. Many fashion houses seem to beat with the trends du jour but with DVN, it's always a steady continuation of the designer's love for textile, pattern and silhouette.
The Dries woman, similarly, is not the kind to follow blindly. His clientele tend to be women who dress for themselves; who enjoy clothes and the cultural context from which they emanate. For F/W 2016, he made references to the Marchesa Luisa Casati, an Italian heiress who chased sensation, patronised the arts, and was one of the driving forces of early 20th century couture.
She held legendary soirees, wore snakes as jewelry, and was often seen walking her pet cheetahs on bejewelled leashes in the city.
The designer's ability to draw from history without losing himself in costume territory is an inimitable strength. His collection in stores at the moment - S/S 2016 - pointed to old Hollywood through silhouettes nipped at the waist, Katharine Hepburn-like shoulders and evening gloves. He made them his own through eccentric wing-like patterns and masterful colour blocking, a clash of warm and cool tones that has become signature Dries.
The Dries lady is above all intelligent, adult and elegant - an intriguing mix of practical and poetic. And in giving her options to consider, the designer is similarly down to earth. Explaining his stance on the clothes he likes to design, he has said,
“If you want to make dreams, make haute couture. But it’s reality that I want to show.”
Everything shown on the runway is made for retail; a fact that is significant in understanding the magic of Dries Van Noten. Though he mines high and low for inspiration - finding aesthetic beauty in punk, faded glamour and the Summer of Love - the underpinnings of his collections are always clothes one can apply in real life. It's a beautiful, heightened reality perhaps - but reality, nonetheless.
SHOP DRIES VAN NOTEN AT LE MILL