Dries Van Noten took us to a venue we had never been to before today, something very rare on the fashion week treadmill, and then turned our expectations upside down. It was composed of a series of vast white ‘perfect’ spaces for a gallery show. Or indeed, a runway show, that ended in a long intimate corridor bathed in hot pink light. And this was the master touch: taking us out of our comfort zone and dragging us into the unique world of his collection.
With this specific intimacy that one show-goer referred to as ‘friends and family’ (though it was a little more ‘friends with benefits’), we were confronted with a celebration of the unconventional — and male sexuality. Van Noten talked of James Bidgoood’s Pink Narcissus and Kenneth Anger in the show notes, and this distinct unrestrained masculinity was evident in the saturated print-heavy looks that held nothing back. All of it set to the hottest soundtrack of the season: a newly commissioned version of Soul Wax’s NY Lipps featuring LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang.
Animal prints clashed with old-lady florals, while photo prints vied for attention with leather and rubber, alongside more traditional florals with delicate embellishment. It was a styling tour-de-force that threw all of the rules out of the window and redefined the paradigms. The nonchalance in the outfitting was contagious and left us wanting to cast away our drab conformist clothes at the exit.
There is something in this level of artistry that makes you question your own sartorial preconceptions, that only Van Noten can conjure up. It was truly inspirational to see him on top of his game redefining what menswear can and should be — daring, and unafraid to break all the rules.