Paris Fashion Week - Dries Van Noten review: Exuberant collection inspired by "passionate women"

 

This time last year Dries Van Noten's work was the subject of a Parisian exhibition. That, pointedly, was not to be classed as a retrospective, but today's collection for spring/summer could have been; it certainly felt like a celebration to the audience assembled in the opulent splendour of the Hotel de Ville.

That was an audience that included Kanye West, by the way, who entered at the last minute with an unusually sunny disposition and was positively beaming as he headed backstage after the show.

And what a show it was. The soundtrack was all women, all a capella and included vocalists as diverse as Kate Bush, Beyonce and Blondie. Surprisingly, given the lack of background music or persistent beat this made for a pacey promenade. A good thing, as there was plenty to see.

Of course there were the richly coloured and intensely worked textiles that Van Noten has made his signature - playing homage to the traditions of India, China and Indonesia. Looks were layered to make the most of this eclecticism: cosy coats of opalescent brocades and textured wools were long in line and belted at the waist. Lighter variations made use of a simple, slightly scrunched sand-shaded cotton that blended safari connotations with over-dyed, quilted patches.

Wide legged trousers in velvet were to the floor or cropped around the knee to resemble the slack shorts of skaters in colours ranging from majestic purple to a romantic dusty pink. Large pailettes were used to almost 3D effect, quivering on the tips of fronds of strung beads. Fake fur fringed brocade scarves, which were twisted and tied around the neck providing an impromptu take on a regal ruff.

 

Another interesting take on more formal wear came courtesy of Van Noten's refashioning of a ballgown for the modern woman. Puffing out from a belt around the waist, this skirt was more of a voluminous train and paired with those loose strides and chunky heeled boots, there was nothing prim or haughty about it.

This exuberant collection was inspired by "passionate women" said the designer backstage, citing those icons of eclecticism Isabella Blow, Anna Piaggi and Iris Apfel. It was a response to the neo-feminism that has been prevalent, he said and a chance to look to the past and translate it not only for today, but for the future. "Anything goes," said Van Noten. "Just have fun with it."‎

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