Dries Van Noten
January 16, 2014 Paris
So he wanted the clothes to feel old. Coats were completely dyed and then acid-washed; striped businessmen's shirts were tie-dyed; a jean jacket was overdyed to an oily sheen; jeans were stripped with acid. And a worn khaki coat could have been vintage military. There was a feel of the itinerant tribes the U.K. calls "travellers" in these seemingly repurposed pieces.
But that was only half the story. The rest was all about the romance, the luxe, the poetry of a Renaissance painting. Bronzino was the reference. Here, there were poet's shirts in floating voile, lacing at the throat; quilted shirts in Palio silks; rich printed velvets; the sweep of a royal blue coat swathed in fox.
And then the audacious coup de grâce, when Van Noten mashed the two together, layer upon layer. The result was ominous and complex, not immediately accessible but well in keeping with the direction he has been moving in lately: riskier, more about pleasing himself—nothing ventured, nothing gained. And the gears meshed in the finale when the models, grimly intense, marched out in separate color-coordinated groups, the blue, the pink, the yellow, and the green. In the sepulchral cavern of the Grand Palais' ground floor, they looked like gangs ready to rumble, West Side Story updated or returned to the story's original roots in Renaissance Verona.