On the Prowl: Dries Van Noten Fall 2016

The invitations for the show were individually hand-painted by the artist Gill Button, whom Van Noten discovered on Instagram — over 1000 ink drawings, all showing the face of his season’s muse, the eccentric Italian heiress Marchesa Luisa Casati, were lovingly drawn in four days. And they, in turn, inspired the show’s heavy black eye make-up that every model sported on the catwalk. It was a meta-moment, which was underlined in the soundtrack, driven by a recording of a model’s heartbeat from the previous night’s rehearsal. 

This referential approach is nothing new at Van Noten. We would happily watch the master churn out variations of the same collection over and over, as his vision is always so startlingly beautiful, but each season he seems to stretch himself, top himself, and casually nail all of the trends in his own inimitable way. The prints were informed by stories of Casati walking the streets with tethered cheetahs and attending parties with live snakes as jewelry. The silhouettes, too, were achingly chic, with Van Noten twisting the current trend of genderless fashion and recalling the classic Victor Victoria line: “I’m a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman.” A feat that only he could pull off so elegantly.

The show notes spoke of “decadence as a lifestyle” and this is exactly where Van Noten excels. The collection was embellished, embroidered, swathed in pearls, and dripping in elegance, yet delightfully wearable and approachable. These were clothes that women desire, and can slot easily into their wardrobes, be they standout pieces shimmering in metallic sequins, or wonderfully cut men’s-inspired tailoring that can be worn day to day — forever. 

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