Dries Van Noten
January 17, 2013 Paris
Such a sour walk-of-shame scenario seemed like an extraordinary launchpad for a collection by Dries Van Noten, renowned purveyor of visions of arcane but controlled beauty. But he nibbled at Courtney Love chaos with his last women's collection, and here he compounded the effect by imagining the kind of man who would wake up with that kind of woman. (No, not Kurt.) Clothes for a quick exit, claimed the press release.
The dressing-up box that this quick exit-er had access to was clearly a trove far above and beyond the usual pile of dirty laundry. Rock-star pants in studded leathers, yes? No, they were denims painted to look like leather. "Nothing is what it seems," said Dries. That's always been his line. So maybe the haphazard, nonchalant mood of this collection was designed to distract. The soundtrack, specially created by scratch DJ Kid Koala, was certainly an accurate aural reflection of the blurry lassitude that ruled the catwalk.
But, on first encounter, it looked like the odd consummation of a new Dries. For one thing, there was a confrontational physicality in the clothes. Wearing pajamas to the supermarket is often the first sign of mental collapse, according to the movies at least. Here pajama-dressing was a cornerstone of the collection. In the dead of winter, the sandals worn with fuzzy mohair socks might play as signs of incipient insanity, more so if the wearer was swathed in a paisley kimono. They could equally be construed as the essence of sporty casualness. Such ambiguity guided the collection to its indistinct conclusion in layers of hallucinatory strangeness. Pity the city boy who woke from his weekend dream in pinstripes and a fringed paisley top yanked from his partner's Glastonbury backpack, or perhaps high-five him.