Dries Van Noten needs no introduction. As a member of the legendary Antwerp Six, he took London by storm in the 80s with a menswear collection that was bought by Barneys as women’s. The rest is history. And he continues to make history every season, going from strength to strength. Last night saw the unveiling of his first major retrospective, Inspirations, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The private view was fittingly hosted by Barneys and it was a fabulous affair, with fashion designers Claude Montana, Rick Owens, Phillip Lim, Kris Van Assche and many more in attendance — proof that Dries has an unrivalled appeal among his peers, no matter their age.
Alongside curator Pamela Golbin, Dries Van Noten has created a uniquely experiential show, with some very personal insights into his life and inspirations. It started with a room full of names and corresponding cabinets full of mannequins wearing legendary pieces by the likes of Claude Montana and Kansai Yamamoto set against a backdrop of record covers ranging from Grace Jones to David Bowie — like a glimpse into Dries’ teenage bedroom. Pieces from his graduate collection are shown alongside these greats, setting the tone for the show.
His work is beautifully presented in glass cases, with paintings by Francis Bacon and Damien Hirst alongside them, and pieces from Elsa Schiaparelli, Vivienne Westwood and Karl Lagerfeld, emphasizing his insatiable appetite for culture, his love of fashion and art, and his finger on the pulse. One room has a wall of videos showing craftsmen in India, beading the most intricate pieces by hand, and we were told that Dries keeps a entire factory busy with this.
The show seamlessly crescendoed into the current spring collections, making it clear that Dries’ designs are timeless and here to stay. It was poignant to watch editors pointing out the pieces in the glass cases that they had themselves, and even more fun in this final room to see people beaming, looking at the outfits they were wearing behind the glass. It’s an unmissable show that we couldn’t recommend more.