Dries Van Noten
September 25, 2013 Paris
The detail was extraordinary. There were tiny droplets of gold in the models' eyelashes and gold woven through the parts in their hair. The backdrop of the men's show was massive sheets of quivering gold Mylar. Here, the gold was applied as foil to huge slatted wood screens. The empire was failing, the gold was flaking, but still, the artisans slaved on. The handwork on a micro-beaded gold shift was so miniscule it was almost invisible. An equally minute tracery of sequins paneled the front of a calico coat. (It's moments like these when Van Noten effortlessly touches on the obsessiveness of haute couture.)
The designer teased the face-off between the peasant authenticity of raw cotton and the outrageous flounce of gold lamé ruffles by sticking them in the same outfit. He joked that his last look—anchored by a giant rosette of white and gold—was "bridal," but seconds before, he'd shown the same outfit in a furious flounce of funereal black, complemented by Daiane Conterato's resolute little face looking like she was ready to flamenco that frock to death. Dries conceded the darkness of the collection, the almost gothic quality. But he insisted that Spain, inspiration for the ruffles, was dark too: Goya, Velázquez, Zurbarán, Balenciaga…
The soundtrack was a solo performance by the bass guitarist Colin Greenwood, of Radiohead. Inspired by his favorite piece from the collection, which featured a cunning use of the barbed wire embroidery, he adapted the bass line from the Radiohead song "My Iron Lung." For his Spring men's show, Cindy Blackman Santana's drumming; for his women's, Colin Greenwood's bass. Next season? "Well, obviously, Cindy and me playing together," said Dries. Wait for it: Dries Van Noten, über lord of fashion's drum 'n' bass set.