Doodle Art at Dries Van Noten

The invitation handwritten in blue biro, or ballpoint pen, led us to the sumptuous Hotel de Ville in Paris’ fourth arrondissement. This clash of down-to-earth and neo-Renaissance set the scene for the show, which opened to the strains of Deep Purple’s art-rock classic, Child in Time: “Sweet child in time, you’ll see the line, line that’s drawn between good and bad.” But of course, with Dries Van Noten, there is no good and bad, only damn good.

The print designers worked for three months on the biro-scribbled prints that dominated the collection, shown in red and classic blue, and reimagined in embroidery and all-over print. He spoke of the freedom that a postman in the south of France might feel when making his art, without the constraints of gallery or collector, and his desire to convey this through the lens of art brut and the untarnished eye of the outsider.

Except, Dries is never an outsider. He has always been, if anything, the original insider. He’s a lone wolf in the increasingly big business of fashion, remaining self owned and without the usual constraints imposed on fashion companies by financial backers and shareholders.

The show was a free-spirited triumph, with those exquisite doodles, and beautiful contrasts of marabou fringes and lurex paneling. Standout coats came in colorful Mongolian lamb with marabou applications lilting off the surface as they moved — truly exquisite. The collection was impulsive, expressive, and as free as they come.