Long known for his vibrant, even boisterous, prints, Dries Van Noten broke the mold this season, proving himself an innovator in more ways than one. In a turn of events that left the audience wide-eyed and the industry insiders intrigued, Van Noten’s signature vivacious prints were conspicuously absent. Instead, the spotlight shone brightly on solids, the occasional muted geometric pattern, and the exquisite tailoring the Belgian designer is acclaimed for.
Van Noten confessed, with a touch of wry humor, that the shift was “quite tough” but equally exciting. For a designer who has reveled in the bold and the bright, this venture into a quieter, more focused aesthetic offered a creative challenge. “It’s sometimes more difficult for us because in the past we’ve been quite loud. But it was really fun, and it was also pushing us to do different things,” he noted backstage.
If the audience missed the visual dynamism of his prints, the power vacuum was ably filled by two elements: Van Noten’s incomparable eye for color and his impeccable tailoring. His distinctive craftsmanship took center stage with an opening act that featured an extra-long, slim-cut trench coat with a distinctly square shoulder line, presaging the columnar silhouette that would dominate the collection.
Yet, Van Noten’s collection was no monolith. While his structured pieces garnered deserved praise, it was arguably his more relaxed silhouettes that triumphed. From elegantly drooping open-weave sweaters to billowing parkas crafted from lightweight nylons, to densely sequined, pajama-like shirts and pants, the show celebrated the freewheeling versatility of modern menswear.
Van Noten’s intuitive understanding of fabric shone through, with lightweight, often gossamer materials gracing the runway. Amidst this airy elegance, the designer indulged in some heavier elements, pairing a loose, golden-hued herringbone suit with a burgundy shirt in an unexpected, yet delightful, color combination. Neutral tones and spice shades ruled the color palette, periodically punctuated by bursts of lilac, apricot, petrol blue, persimmon, and lime.
This collection can aptly be labeled “quiet luxury,” though Van Noten resists such categorizations. “I don’t want to dictate,” he said, reflecting on his nearly three-decade-long career in men’s fashion. Rather, Van Noten is intent on “giving suggestions.” With this Spring/Summer 2024 collection, he offered an array of elegant possibilities for the modern man – a cool, effortlessly wearable wardrobe that champions style over spectacle.
© Photos: Dries Van Noten
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