I’m still not sure the weather worked in Dries van Noten’s advantage or not. It had been dry all day long, almost too dry. The thunder was coming and people complained about headaches. Rain was coming, and the catwalk, originally placed out in the open, was moved in under roof, but still outside. The thunderstorm came and frenetic rain hit the tarmac for a while. Just as the first model stepped out, a van turned into the courtyard of Place de la Bourse, playing loud music from a dozen massive speakers. On top was the show DJ who not only supplied the model’s walking beat, but also entertained all the curious fashion civilians who had gathered around to view the spectacle.
Only it wasn’t so much of a spectacle. Dries’s shows, albeit full of brilliant clothing, are never much of a talking point. The Belgian designer has several times said he doesn’t like showing pieces that won’t end up in the stores. That means we get an honest and wearable effort, but one that lacks attention seeking pieces. He left that to the thunder and his DJ.
It was almost like Dries went for a Best Of collection. We saw all the stuff we’ve come to love him for; double-breasted jackets, casual trousers, deep V-neck T-shirts, parka coats, lounge cardigans and button-less polo shirts. A shirt jacket and a wrap-around waistcoat stood out. What we also noticed was the sombre colour scale and the ever-lasting prints. They’re of course one of the reasons we adore him, no one does ethnic designs and prints and like him. When the thunder (and the show) had finished, Dazed Digital sat down with the man himself to let him explain the show.
Dazed Digital: What was the general theme of the collection?
Dries van Noten: There was a sartorial feel to it. It is something I had already started but felt I wanted to continue with. It was about putting sophistication back into it and using the best fabrics, like English wool, but also for the ethnic materials. It was very important that they were the real stuff and authentic.
DD: Where did you get inspiration for the prints?
Dries van Noten: They are typical Indian block prints. I used Madras motifs and the Sanskrit sign for ‘infinity’.
DD: The colour scale sometimes seemed a bit dark for a summer collection!
Dries van Noten: Well, I like it that way. For me, summer doesn’t always have to be bright, white and light, it can be dark as well.
DD: Was it a bit of a Back to Basic collection?
Dries van Noten: Not really, because I always change something, like the epaulettes on a trench coat, or the buttons on a jacket. That’s what menswear often is about. It was more about an evolution for me. Like with the Ethnic Elegance – I’ve done ethnic before but never in an elegant way. I wanted to bring that look into the city, with shiny shoes and so on.
DD: What’s your favourite piece from the collection?
Dries van Noten: I really like the Ikat pants!
Photography by Giovanni di Nunzio. Film by Joost Vandebrug.