Opéra Bastille -Paris fashion week
The start of a new decade has encouraged talks of the century before it — the Roaring Twenties, when opulence and unrestrained hedonism were the zeitgeist. As is customary with the fashion industry, past stylistic tropes often resurface to deliver a new-age aesthetic steeped in nostalgia. But rather than fixate on the heady nature of one hundred years prior, Dries Van Noten instead chose to channel an equally experimental time period for his FW20 collection: the 80s.
When Dries Van Noten staged his “Inspirations” at Les Arts Décoratifs in 2014, one of the first tableaux in the exhibition featured a room dedicated to all the early references that shaped his mind. Displayed erratically, to some of us the many names and pictures evoked a fantasy idea of Van Noten’s teenage bedroom, its walls covered in posters of all his Seventies-era idols: David Bowie, Andy Warhol, John Travolta, and Klaus Nomi alongside designers like Claude Montana, Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier and Dame Vivienne Westwood. Fast-forward half a decade and Thursday’s show felt a lot like the collection take on that same idea.
Sure, Dries said it was informed by the photography of Karlheinz Weinberger, by the Eighties underground punk scene and groups like New York Dolls, The Stooges and Ramones. But while his teenage self admittedly was much too polite to dress the way his models did in the Opera Bastille, he must have had his Seventies moments of at least dreaming of satin short shorts, a plunging Hawaiian shirt, platform heels and a fur stole wrapped around his neck.
This designer has never designed for himself, but following last season’s exuberant men’s collection and the Christian Lacroix women’s collaboration that followed, it’s safe to say that the composed Mr Van Noten is channelling some sort of personal experimentation.
“It’s enjoying clothes, dressing, using your sexual power to feel great,” he said backstage. “It was fun to work on something more theatrical. For me, fashion can use a little theatre now.” He was echoing Rick Owens, who presented a glamorous collection earlier in the day, decreeing that we all need to do our part both to save a declining planet but also to keep spirits high.
If Van Noten’s louche and slightly parodic mix of heritage fabrics with stretchy velvets, tropical motifs and unlikely garments adorned in diamanté served to make us feel better, he certainly brought a smile to our face. It was fun to see Van Noten, who lives a life of good taste, have a go at the ugly, the tatty, and the bling, tying it all up in the eclecticism he has often practised to perfection (looking at you, men’s autumn/winter 2013).
“Tim Blanks once wrote that “fashion’s job is to remind us that beauty is a human need”, and that’s what Dries Van Noten’s shows do. The designer’s A/W20 collection felt true to that – it was, in short, achingly beautiful.”
Although, a piece of potentially polluting faux fur fashioned in the shape of a real fox stole – legs and all – kind of has the same self-contradictory appeal as a piece of vegan bacon. There were plenty of things in this show to feed an increasingly multi-dimensional menswear market, which is also growing increasingly unafraid when it comes to these types of clothes. But undeniably, the winning garments were those imbued with Van Noten’s masterful sense of regal classicism: a velvet-collared double-breasted wool coat, a pleated liquidised trouser, or a moiré-like, salmon-coloured blouson.
Dries Van Noten Men’s Fall 2020