Dries Van Noten’s retrospective opens on February 28, 2014 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which means that his preparation for the exhibit and his Fall/Winter 2014 collection arose simultaneously. Van Noten has spent a lot of time looking to the past as he’s prepared to put his cohesive vision before critical eyes, and has had the difficult task of pairing his past works with museum pieces. It comes as no surprise that there is an air of nostalgia at work in his fall collection – a reprisal of his greatest hits, but veiled beneath a flashy Optical Art exterior that ripples and swirls with illusory grandeur. That’s the thing about remembering: memories warp over time. How do you know that the memory you have now hasn’t been colored by optimism or pessimism injected by a present-day you? Thankfully, Van Noten’s memory is affected positively, such that his signature looks take on a fresh new exterior for the modern day.
His iconic florals are elevated to new form in exaggerated 3-D appliqués – a waterfall of hot-pink lifelike orchids down the front of a prim, black tunic dress, and a trellis of red hibiscus on a luxurious, elongated pantsuit. His prints swirl and dazzle in all manner of psychedelic arrangements, from patterns inset with contrasting patchwork to undulating pinwheels. There is a sense of movement and power to his hypnotizing prints, which put floral vibrancy on full blast while twisting in non-sequitur patterns like optical illusion diagrams and oversized diamonds. Beyond the decorative aspects, the clothing is demure, slightly oversized, and linear. There are cozy plain knits mixed in with sequin striped maxi skirts, geometrically printed varsity jackets, and parachute-sleeved blouses. For evening, Van Noten introduces a form of liquid glitter that only served to increase the dazzling visuals of his presentation. His keen eye for artistic pairings and off-kilter assemblage is what makes him a perfect fit for a museum exhibition but, more importantly, a paramount resource for cool, crafty clothing.
Photos: Courtesy of GoRunway