The lither bodies of male dancers, and the clothing they wear both on and off the stage, was where designer Dries Van Noten began this season’s sartorial conversation. A collection expressly focused on exploring or encouraging movement.
But as celebratory as this show was of a form of artistic expression, that is often fraught with emotion, this line up with its scooped necked tops, ribbed knitted waistband trousers, and feather light shirts, was actually rather restrained. Especially coming from a designer who is known for his masterful work with prints, color mélanges, and daring embellishments.
Van Noten’s choice to pull back, regroup, and push out into unchartered territory is somewhat understandable. After all the designer spent the last year trolling through his creative past and delving into self analysis to produce the exceptional retrospective of his work that is currently on display in Paris at Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
This collection felt very much like a clear break from all that has come before it. Bare chested models took to the designer’s catwalk in sensual (not a word usually associated with Van Noten) dressing gown coats, fluid garments cut in an illustration print of nude male dancers and tricky harness like vests- with only one shoulder being covered in a swath of fabric- strapped to the body.
This was no timid first step onto a new sartorial stage. But just like when Rudolf Nureyev, who was the muse of the show, first arrived on the ballet scene this collection will also need some time for it to be fully appreciated.