Of all the mini-trends emerging in Paris, the scarf-vitation must be one of the gentler ones. At Lacoste, a scarf was left on every seat; the Rick Owens ticket takes the form of a bandanna. Dries Van Noten delivered his invite on a white silk handkerchief.
Was the plain material a precursor to the themes of his SS18 show? Last season, the Belgian designer delivered his 100th collection and a catwalk event that voyaged through his archive of prints. A sumptuous two-volume retrospective of those shows has just landed on the bookshelf at the French boutique Colette.
This season the set was bare but for a dazzling white catwalk. There were no tufted rugs or Manet-inspired “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe”-style tableaux. Nor were there ice-sculptures, nor any of the other artful installations one might associate with his shows. Yet as the strains of a slowed-down “Be My Baby” filtered through the room, Van Noten delivered a collection demonstrating all the mastery of those métiers he has shown for 30 years.
The collection was quiet but colourful, subdued but optimistic. It teased with contrasts and delivered with every look.
It began with nudes, delicate diamanté embellishment and spare design. Slip dresses featured sparkly tulle overlays which, in Van Noten’s hands, seemed like real propositions rather than preposterous ideas.
Then came neons, bold brocades covered in chrysanthemums and punchy acid colours, followed by watery rose, violet and tan.
The scarf, as billed, was key to the collection, draped in folds on skirts and dresses, or tailored in fluid pyjama suits and robe coats. The prints were inspired by everything from 1920s Deco to 1980s decor and the graphic designs lent the simple silhouettes a more striking femininity. The looks were worn with a matching graphic boot, or paired with a strappy heel — the models wore silver lips and crystal hair clips in their hair.
In some ways this was the beginning of a new chapter for the 59-year-old designer: the first of another 100 collections. Thankfully, the overwhelming calm of his design, the diverse casting, the lush palette and the gentle beauty of it all remained perfectly the same.
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