Dries Van Noten Spring 2012
Paris Fashion Week

" ´I didn’t want to use any prints that were created for fabrics,´ explained Dries Van Noten backstage at his commanding show, a study in elegant modernity that took his signature culture mix into unchartered waters. So instead, against a controlled palette of black, navy, and white touched with teal, magenta, and cinnamon, he looked to hand-colored seventeenth-century studies of butterfly wings, eighteenth-century Arcadian land- and seascapes, the exquisite early-nineteenth-century rose studies of Pierre-Joseph Redouté, and an image of a Victorian jungle—and literally spliced these up with thoroughly twenty-first-century photographs of cities at night, including the colored lights blinking from the windows of high-rises in Marseilles and Beirut, or the illuminations garlanding a London bridge sparkling in the darkness. He laid bands of these mismatched images together to create photo prints that were artfully arranged just so on the individual garment.
Dries wanted to use those prints on “strange shapes,” so he looked to the exaggerated volumes of mid-century haute couture: the mushrooming opera coats of Cristóbal Balenciaga, and the extreme ruffles, peplums, and structure of lesser known but adventurous Spanish and Italian couturiers of that period (thick black scrollwork lace, against crisp white slips or cotton tees seemed a nod to the same sources). Translated into humble, crisp cottons and paper taffetas, these silhouettes were deflated of their vintage pomp and transformed into thoroughly twenty-first-century propositions. Tone-on-tone embroidered matador and ribbon-braided nineteenth-century military jackets threw menswear elements into the melting pot; a counterpoint to the feminine little shift-dresses, the abbreviated caftans, and the draped skirts that suggested the inventive wrappings of women in the African countryside.For Dries, those photo prints of the enigmatic lights in the urban nightscapes looked like so many Swarovski crystals glittering in the dark, so he echoed the effect with the crystals themselves, on an inky paper-taffeta opera coat or a skirt of slippery dark crepe; a poetic finale to his thoughtful show." Hamish Bowles [via]

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