The Undiscovered Continent: Dries Van Noten Paris Fashion Week 2015-16
Belgian designer Dries van Noten occupies a unique position in the world of fashion.
Undisputedly a master of color, cutting and detail, his aesthetic vocabulary combines his fashion design skill with an interest in the history of visual arts and a singular ability to reference ethnic and folk sartorial codes into a well-formed world full of refined fabrics, delicate weaves and rich prints. With his fall/winter 2015-2016 collection Dries van Noten took us on a tour de force of this bold new continent with a collection that dexterously fused disparate elements - fireman's coats, military trousers, wrap around skirts and sarouels with detailing cast in silver inspired by the Far East - a collection simultaneously dreamlike and concrete with one foot in history and the other firmly planted in the urban metropolis.
One of the principle aesthetic inspirations was China’s Miao people, a culture who decorate their clothes in a distinctly ornate manner with structural metallic embellishments the designer referenced to dazzling effect. The ornate but nomadic aspect of the Miao informed the collection with true elegance, with quilted coats sometimes having the lining reversed to hint at the hinterland winter. Silk suits were chicly cut, but possessed a rakish pajama edge, a nod to opium den days of yore. The color palette of indigo, olive green, black and plum was interspersed with occasional stabs of crimson always perfectly judged to sit next to the delicate prints for which the designer is justly famed. An exercise in style and refinement Dries van Noten created one of the most covetable and powerful collections of the week.