Wednesday, 3 October 2012

notes à la mode 16

Welcome to my private DRIES VAN NOTEN party!

There are some people out there who write masterfully about fashion and they can turn fashion terms into poetry. Tim Blanks at is one of them. I always enjoy reading what he says about the fashion shows of Dries Van Noten. I get the feeling that he really likes Dries, as I do. He seems to write what I'm thinking, or wished I had thought.

Unlike me, he knows how to put it into words; he has the vocabulary that I lack. That said, in today's post I'm featuring most of Tim Blank's review on the spring/summer 2013 collection, which Dries showed last week at the Paris Fashion Week.

One of grunge's most indelible images is Kurt Cobain in a floral dress thrashing paroxysmally at his guitar. On the surface, it's incongruous that such a vision should insinuate itself into the exquisite collection Dries Van Noten showed today, but Cobain's specter actually served as a useful reminder that Van Noten has become a designer from whom you can expect the unexpected association. He is a past master of nothing ever being quite what it seems, and his new collection easily ranked right up there with his other master-pieces. It was definitely Van Noten's most seductive investigation of the masculine/feminine dynamic that is at the heart of his aesthetic. Here, that dynamic was completely integrated with his other design concerns: his facility with prints and his fascination with the cloth and cut of haute couture.
[grey font, mine]

There was a clear through-line to the men's collection Van Noten showed in June, where quintessentially male camo was reconfigured in quintessentially female lace and shantung. Here, he took plaid, another pattern whose association is mostly masculine, and reworked it in taffeta, organza, mousseline, and lamé. The first outfit laid out the game plan: plaid work shirt (organza), man's singlet (crepe), organza-backed skirt liberally crusted with flowers, and checker-print stilettos (though Van Noten nixed any literal inspirations, he did acknowledge that the shoes were a little bit Courtney Love). Paul Hanlon supplied an artful center-part with a couple of inches of grungy regrowth; Peter Philips created an opposite look with the perfectly made-up lips of a lady who lunches (the subtle but significant contributions of these collaborators are sadly all too easy to overlook in the ten or so pell-mell minutes of a fashion show). There you had it: grunge couture.
[grey font, mine]

And those flowers were important too, because they were all screen-printed. Dries turned his back on the digital world, for this season at least, in favor of the pure craft of the human hand.

Underpinning the whole thing was a soundtrack that transmogrified girl songs (Amy's "Back to Black," Kylie's "Can't Get You Out of My Head," Karen's "Superstar") into guitar-driven male groan, underscoring the idea that if nothing is what it seems, it's equally true that nothing need be what it seems. Increasingly confident in his idiosyncrasies, Dries is going further Out There with the passage of time.
[grey font, mine]

In case you missed it, I love Dries!

Before moving to Antwerp I loved Dries’s design but living there for two years only made me love it more.

photo credit:
1: The Sartorialist / 4-5, 8, 11: The Sartorialist / 2-3, 6-7, 9-10, 12-14: details via  / 15-22: Alessandro Garofalo for


  1. I LOVED the collection! Very, very, very much! Still don't know if I should write about it separately or include it in my PFW round-up. xo

  2. I love Dries, too! :) I love his views on fashion and styling and adore his prints and embroidery details (previous collections). And that photo with the dog just got me melting... A man who loves dogs (and loved by dogs) can't do wrong. :)

  3. I really liked this show- the details, the colour, the textures, the SHOES, the embellishment and the louche silhouettes - just beautiful and classic. Marrying that back to a 'grunge' vibe was very clever. I loved the lipstick colour too - so why oh why, don't the girls smile a little!? And leaving digital printing behind for screenprinting - perfect! :)

  4. Lisa, this was one of my favorite collection from Paris. I know about your passion for Dries since last season and I understand why ;)

  5. Great post Lisa and I adore that skirt/shirt/shoes in the last pic whole range looked fabulous and your right Tim does write well but the post would not have been the same without your lovely little black type input......keep up the writing!
    Carla x

    1. Thank you Carla. I love everything in that last photo as well, that outfit is so chic.

  6. now if one could only afford these pieces... great post!


Your comment appears on the blog after approval. Comments with commercial links are reported as spam.