paris fashion week: dries van noten

(images via style)

oh, my. so for whatever reason, it seems like whenever we’re on to discussing a dries van noten show from paris fashion week here on opt (see a/w 2010, s/s 2011, a/w 2011, s/s 2012, a/w 2012, s/s 2013), we’re here, like, allllll bloody day. maybe that’s because the belgian designer has so many ideas floating around in a single collection it’s rather difficult for all the thoughts to coalesce, though. and i’m okay with that. after all, in these days when designers appear to be actively trying to strip their shows down to the entirely salable elements, there’s something quite fresh in his heady (almost wordy, really), intellectual displays, non?

and so, for the upcoming a/w 2013 season, style explained that “he and partner Patrick Vangheluwe became fixated on Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing cheek to cheek in Top Hat, the 1935 classic that, in its dancing sequences, borders on purest ecstasy. And that’s how ‘Fred and Ginger’ became the inspiration for Van Noten’s new collection: classic embodiments of masculinity and femininity, subversively fused into one under fashion’s umbrella. It’s been a subtle theme of the season so far, but where other designers used fur to stand for the feminine, Dries said it with feathers, and that made the point so much more effectively.”

“A deliriously mixed message was sent out by Van Noten’s own favorite outfit—a mannish white shirt with a necklet of paste diamonds, navy skirt trailing plumes of ostrich anchored by crystal, over gray flannel pants,” they continued. “If it was barely matched by the daddy-huge cabled sweater over a varsity-stripe skirt that dissolved into flapper fringes (with crepe-soled oxfords as footwear), and the brocade skirt that feminized a plus-size overcoat and chunky knit (again, the paste diamonds, and this time, high heels with ankle socks), that’s only because feathers trumped fringing and brocade on the Ginger scale. Froths of ostrich were a perversely glamorous counterpoint to the flat-shoed, gray-flanneled sobriety of the outfits they anchored.”

“Everyone knows the coolest girls are those that can layer seemingly incongruous pieces in such a way that the total look feels perfectly meant to be,” declared fashionologie. and so, the designer “riffed on that idea, mixing and matching classically femme elements with traditionally male pieces for a gender-bending romp that felt fresh, youthful, and very, very chic. Floral-printed chiffon, shiny jacquard, and marabou feathers decorated shift dresses, tiered A-line skirts, and belted coats. They were often paired with slouchy boyfriend sweaters, crisp button-up work shirts, heavy wool trousers, and rugby striped tops for the ultimate just-threw-this-on look.”

meanwhile, we heard from vogue that “(t)his was boyfriend borrowing on the grand scale: The show opened with an oversize man’s navy wool top coat embellished with a rococo swirl of red wool and silver tinsel embroidery, worn with lean gray flannel pants and rubber-soled Oxfords. A camel Crombie coat was latticed with twinkling rhinestones or a giant cabled sweater was paired with a skirt in the stripes of an Ivy League tie—the silk unthreaded at the hemline to finish it with a deep band of flapper fringing.”

“Old-fashioned cricket blazer stripes (that recalled Van Noten’s debut as a menswear designer),” they prattled on, “Savile Row suiting fabrics, and poplin shirts were mixed with soft wool challis and georgette chiffons in a shadowy Victorian wallpaper floral and a 1960s-couture-flavored lamé brocade in pale silver and rose. There was an early sixties couture spirit, too, to the wide-cut slash-neck tops and tunics, but the spirit was always casual, even when a man’s crumpled cotton shirt was worn with one of Van Noten’s ‘fluffy things,’ a ball-gown skirt fluttering with toffee-colored ostrich fronds.”

and according to the washington post, “‘I started from the menswear pants, and then the opposite is ballroom dancing … big feathers,’ he said…’Fashion is so serious, so the hints of the Fred and Ginger story were fun.’ Who better to represent the Van Noten universe, where men’s and women’s styles merge together, than one of the most iconic and inseparable male-female couple in Hollywood history? Ostrich feathers in midnight blue, faded gray and tea rose billowed like 1930s boas with large vivid embroideries, vintage fur alongside men’s baggy pants, club stripes and Prince of Wales check. Some of the feathered fringing floated past wistfully, only to be reined in by the humorous juxtaposition of a menswear cut.”

“Neither gender in Van Noten’s exploration was relegated to second place. Fred Astaire & Ginger Roberts were name checked in the show notes and a haunting rendition of ‘cheek to cheek’ provided the show’s soundtrack. The end result was a wardrobe of covetable trouser shapes from 1930s men’s wide cut styles as worn by The Top Hat lead though to slim pinstriped pants which any girl would steal from their man friend’s closet. As for Ginger, marabou tendrils were integrated into the most unexpected garments,” explained grazia. “Marabou fringed dropped waist tunics were paired with low slung trousers while alpaca coats were sprinkled with gold polka dots each with their own feather, making the plain very pretty indeed.”

and fab sugar described how “the looks sent out offered up an even-keeled mix of luxury vs. minimalism, masculinity vs. femininity, and daytime vs. evening. Head-to-toe brocade looks were punctuated by fringe and an outburst of ostrich feathers; chinoiserie-inspired embroidery adorned blazer and coat lapels; crisp white button-ups were styled with feathered maxi skirts; and tiered, fringed 1920s-esque minidresses were layered over pinstriped cigarette pants. Could this be the return of the (reformed) flapper? Flat oxfords, even more ostrich feathers (on skirts and coats!), and a distinct nod to after-hours glamour point to ‘yes.'”

the aesthetic for fall, rapped out the la times, was “(c)ozy luxe. Oversized tailoring and boudoir-inspired fabulousness. A floral-embroidered overcoat over mannish trousers and lug-sole shoes. An over-sized blue sweater over a below-the-knee, rep stripe skirt swinging with fringe. Washed floral dresses that fell in tiers with unfinished edges. A terra cotta coat with a well-loved, piled texture, scattered with jewels. Pinstripe skirts over pants. Dresses swaying with marabou feathers, one in an electric pink hue. Men’s button-down shirts tucked into marabou feather skirts. Fuzzy socks stuffed into delicate, strappy rhinestone sandals.”

and chimed in fashion week daily, “(l)ayering, textures and prints were the focus for Fall at Dries Van Noten. While there were enough dark tones (variations on noir, really) Southeast Asia felt like a touchstone as well, with traditional silhouettes, a la tunic-like skirts and dresses worn over pants, and tropical floral prints. To wit: A menswear inspired navy suit was worn with a knee-length matching skirt with a floral embroidered jacket, a tiered champagne-hued dress worn over suit pants, and a blue button-down topped off with a navy, yellow, and brown striped jacket with similar embroidery and a wide-striped tunic worn over matching trou.”

then, wwd trilled along that “Van Noten announced said invasion from the first look out, an amply proportioned coat with explosive red and gold embroidery down one side, belted in a skinny strip of crystals and worn over gray trousers. He continued on with the tailoring — a twist on the three-piece suit, here a jacket over skirt over pants; trompe l’oeil dresses that appeared to be layered pieces. With the British wools as his base, the designer sometimes introduced rich, pale brocades into the mix. Almost every look bore some fusion of masculine and feminine: the austerity of a jacket and pants interrupted by an all-over fringed chemise; the collegiate dash of a big, striped sweater countered with an embroidered velvet skirt.”

finally, though, there was the nyt‘s cathy horyn, relating that the designer showed “masculine overcoats, wide-cut trousers and silk-fringed tunics in a collection that recalled his eclectic men’s wear…For that show, Mr. Van Noten imagined men hastily grabbing any old thing after a wild night on the town. The effect was charming, in part because of the dazzling variety and texture of coats and knitwear. Not surprisingly, the strongest looks in his fall women’s show were coats and tinsel-embellished blazers. Other tailored pieces in a red and cream wool stripe evoked the pattern of a burnoose. Mr. Van Noten often blends cultural references, and that may explain the piano-fringed layers and the languid lines. But the collection didn’t hang together particularly well, and the spree of feather-dotted coats and dresses seemed at odds with his classy aesthetic.”

(enjoy the fashion show video here)

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