“Easy doesn’t have to be boring,” Dries Van Noten said during a preview of his spring 2024 collection, in which he set out to make the “familiar unfamiliar,” using his eclectic approach on a stellar lineup of sporty daywear.
“We really explored things that material-wise are straightforward — chino, denim, rugby stripes, shirt stripes — but turned and twisted, subverted and made them into something else better,” he said.
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Like Saint Laurent’s Anthony Vaccarello, and some others here during the first couple days of Paris Fashion Week, he took a casual, utilitarian stance, turning away from the florals-on-florals, and heavy embroidery of recent seasons in favor of separates that will be more wearable everyday.
There is a “Mode et Sport” fashion exhibition currently on view at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and Paris is gearing up to host the 2024 Olympics. But although Van Noten referenced rugby, cricket and tennis, as well as 1920s knit bathing costumes on the runway, he laughed when asked if he will be dressing the Belgian national team. “No. There’s just something nice about doing daywear,” he said of where his head was, arriving in Paris fresh off a getaway to the Amalfi coast.
The designer’s casual wardrobe would be right at home there, his fine tailoring rendered in humble materials for a change. He even managed to make a denim suit stylish, with a blazer defined by his signature pagoda shoulders matched to Bermuda jorts.
Van Noten’s usual masculine/feminine proportion play was in good form, on club jackets and pants with colorful binding that came shrunken or oversize, and cute deconstructed tennis sweaters.
Elegant shirt-stripe dresses, twisted at the mid section, and shirt-stripe bra tops, struck a classic note with a dash of sensuality. And rugbys were reimagined as rugby-stripe drawstring pants and a cool rugby shirt dress worn open over a filmy silk micro-sequin skirt. Sport lacing was used as a detail to cinch the waist of a great-looking khaki shirt dress layered over navy pants, to shape chino cargo skirts and to sculpt rugbys.
Van Noten layered crochet bikini tops under oversize men’s shirts and trenchcoats, and riffed on utility wear with boxy military jackets and lustrous cargo pants in a sumptuous shade of burgundy. And like nearly every runway designer this season, he couldn’t resist showing short shorts, in silk sateen.
There was some print and embellishment, but mainly bi-color with simple swirl or bird motifs. Floaty silk tanks and skirts came dotted with tiny sequins, and silver satin jackets were top-stitched with seed pearls. Pearls also dotted the ultimate khaki mackintosh coat.
Accessories, on the other hand, were super-embellished, with the designer’s curved Virgo heels in graphic patterns, sprouting beading and fringe, and distorted jewels dangling from fingers and wrists.
On the way out of the show, two buyers were debating whether to buy the collection as looks or separates, and settled on doing both, which would please Van Noten. As he said, “I really want women to dress the way they want.”
Launch Gallery: Dries Van Noten RTW Spring 2024
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