Romantic, boulder-strewn landscapes and anonymous cityscapes — neon lights shining in the dark — these were the dreamscapes of Dries Van Noten’s haunting spring-summer 2012 ready-to-wear collection Wednesday.
This was a show as organically Dries as it was inventive and new.
Dris Van Noten, the chic hippie trail designer that the jet set turns to for the organic and enlightening feel of his clothes, mind traveled through photo etchings of the Marseilles-based British photographer James Reeve known for his abstracted urban landscapes; using them as silk screen prints for his collection. A technique by no means novel in its undertaking but one that Van Noten chose to apply in a timely fashion…He is more of a stylist designer than a trendsetter after all.
The importance of the photo prints, often taken from etchings, was not just that they created the tiny universes within a square on the midriff or bodice of a dress but the fact that they enabled the designer, known for vivid color, to be creative with black and white, highlighted with leaf green or fuchsia.
The result was clothes that hovered between man-made city and nature, with an urban urgency, yet a poetic vision. And with everything fitting into the pieces of a pattern — say ribbon bows tying jackets or fastening sandals —they rendered the exercise a certain elegance that is very much Dries hand writing. Not everything worked for me some of the pieced together prints and sequined numbers were a bit of a mess…and hard to wear as it was that peplum skirt pants combo…not a happy choice….a lot of the pieces I liked best were the black ones they created the right punctuation for the graphics….
Some designs, with their arching proportions at the back of a jacket or as a bulbous dress, recalled Cristóbal Balenciaga, whose noble Spanish roots and grand gestures also inspired toreador embroideries and matador jackets. Backstage, the designer acknowledged that the recent Balenciaga museum show in San Francisco had inspired him.
The Belgian designer managed however to inject new life to the ladylike shapes of 1950s era couture, sending out classic bell-shaped shirts and ample cocoon coats illuminated by urban lights or covered in dramatic black and white etchings of mountains and waterfalls.
Suddenly, the feeling of vintage and retrospection was gone replaced by an of-the-moment feeling of freshness.
photos courtesy of style.com
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