Dear Shaded Viewers,
In a world awash with trends and the temporary, Dries Van Noten’s Spring/Summer ’24 collection offers a refreshing sabbatical. Here, in his hands, resides a masterclass in the balance of contrasts: tradition turned topsy-turvy, athletic influences blended with haute couture, and the timeless dance of masculine and feminine.
Van Noten effortlessly tosses the rulebook, using sportswear as his canvas. Where once a rugby stripe might have stood as a beacon of athletic grit, it’s now been reinvented, gracing asymmetrical dresses and twisting around torsos in unexpected wraps. The tennis scarf, typically seen wrapped around fervent fans, now finds itself reborn – not just as a knitted top, but dramatically reworked into the elegant drape of skirts. It’s in these unexpected adaptations that Van Noten pushes boundaries, reminding us of fashion’s limitless playground.
However, where Van Noten truly thrives is in his re-imagination of men’s tailoring for the modern woman. There’s an exquisite tension in seeing a shirt, the epitome of sartorial normalcy, transformed into new and ethereal shapes. From oversized tuxedo jackets to the artful elongation of trench coats, he creates a sartorial ballet – each piece flowing seamlessly into the next, always hinting at formality but with an undeniable casual ease.
The collection’s focus on authentic fabrics like cotton chino and striped poplin, alongside the fresh take on familiar materials such as washed denim, grounds the designs in a tangible reality. These are not just clothes for the runway; they are a celebration of the everyday turned extraordinary. His prints, too, are distilled to their essence, where bi-colours and graphical patterns come alive in their simplicity.
Perhaps one of the most poetic sections of Van Noten’s collection is his exploration of adornments. From jewels cascading in fractured elegance to the reinvention of pearls and the strategic placement of sequins, he challenges our preconceptions of where and how embellishments should feature.
Yet, amidst all this innovation, there’s a resonance, an echo of familiarity. As he himself said, it’s the “familiar-unfamiliar and unfamiliar-familiar” – things we recognize but seen through a fresh lens. In an era where the world sometimes feels unrecognizable, Van Noten’s collection serves as a comforting yet challenging reminder: beauty lies in the balance of dichotomies, and fashion, at its best, can be both a mirror and a window.