DRIES VAN NOTEN
SPRING 2019 COLLECTION
REVIEW BY SARAH MOWER
Ears backstage have become so inured to designers nattering on about the importance of capturing millennials and Gen Z that to hear someone considering how a modern woman might enjoy her clothes sounds almost radically avant-garde. Dries Van Noten discussed just that today, in relation to a collection that was extra specially on point. It was about someone who likes to play with her clothes, “a gesture of couture, but not in a retro way—the way she stands, holds her bag, all these things,” he said.
An almost audible exhalation rippled through the audience at first sight. Upliftingly colorful and rationally wearable, it was artistically posh in the places a woman needs it—something non-auntie-like to wear to a wedding, perhaps. There was a great navy tailored pantsuit for the business work most designers have forgotten breadwinning women must do. Fun pairs of pumps in diagonal stripes—yep, they appealed to all those ladies who have gone with the novelty of the white shoe and boot this past year. It was a super-clever step forward.
There are old-school couture references running through this season. They’ve been there even among very young designers like Matty Bovan and Richard Quinn, who have come up with their own interpretations of Parisian ball gowns in London. In Van Noten’s much more practiced, grown-up hands, the gestures were about draping and tying, using papery-light technical fabric. There was a flower-printed side-draped skirt with a kind of half train, worn with a blue sleeveless shirt, and a black techno-taffeta dress with its waist glamorously tied in a fat bow at the side. The joy of it was that it looked almost as if you could do it yourself. Formal yet offhandedly uncontrived.
No wonder Van Noten’s well-wishers were wreathed in smiles backstage. It was his best collection in quite a while. And grateful smiles of self-recognition among grown-ups runway-side are a rare thing these days.