A few seasons ago, following his acceptance of the 2009 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion, Dries Van Noten joined the director of The Museum at FIT, Valerie Steele, for a question-and-answer session with students at the Fashion Institute of Technology. It was the first time I heard the Belgian designer speak and his soft-spoken, humble demeanor left a lasting impression. There have been talks that Van Noten could be in the running for taking over John Galliano’s position at Christian Dior; while there’s no doubt that his cool and composed nature and unique ability for working with color, fabric, and texture would make him a fine candidate, given that he is one of the only designers at his high level of success who is entirely self-financed, an intentional position on his part to stay in control, it seems unlikely. I also distinctly remember him saying he cherishes his life in Belgium as it’s away from the “fashion circus.” Dommage!
This season, the designer gave us the drama of patchworked prints along with the ease of more sobering neutrals, for a collection that mixed young and fresh with clean and classic.
The designer’s coats and blazers were particularly noteworthy this season with their contrasting lapel, belted waist, and impeccably tailored form, as were the wonderfully cozy-looking, chunky knits with contrasting collars. As for the prints, while they referenced various periods, including the 60s, which we’ve seen extensively this season already, in Van Noten's hands, even clashing patchworked graphic zigzag prints don’t feel harsh on the eyes. It was with his lineup of finale gowns, however, that the designer's prints left their most indelible mark. Head-to-toe prints are not an easy thing to pull off, but the clean lines of Van Noten's silhouettes never made wearing patchworked eveningwear look so appealing.
Photos: Vincenzo Grillo, IMAXtree.