It was a Midsummer’s Night moment on the Dries Van Noten catwalk on Wednesday. Even before his first model appeared, the designer had already transported his audience away with his bucolic scenery, having commissioned a stunning mile long handmade mossy green shag carpet that beautifully echoed a lush and moody pastoral setting.
Along this shady path a tribe of modern day embodiments of “Ophelia,” as originally envisioned by the pre Raphaelite painter Sir John Everett Millais and then seen through the prism of Van Noten’s vision of bohemian summer festival followers, came into view. Their clothing a rich mélange of elegant fabrics cut in fluid silhouettes designed to awaken and float about the body whenever Van Noten’s women happen to be compelled to move with the music.
“It’s a girl who loves festivals -- Stonehenge, Glastonbury, Burring Man -- and she loves nature and she doesn’t follow rules, so she puts on clothes that she wants,” explained the designer after his show.
Van Noten too doesn’t follow any fashion rules. Always traveling to the rhythm of his own singular drum beat -- an endless and exceptional exploration of fabrics.
This time the designer showed a master class in how to morph and mold an impressive assortment of textiles and prints. The rich dark, yet incandescent, fabrics sometimes shimmered in lichen-like brocades or became a swirling contrast of prints that the designer almost magically melded together across asymmetrical skirts, slip dresses or wrap front dhoti pants.
There were so many exceptional pieces in the collection highlighting any one ensemble almost feels unfair. But in a collection of winning looks, the impressive micro layered rainbow sleeveless knee length vest was a showstopper. The gilded denim designs were also on another level. But then there was the jacket on look number 50. Worn by model Hanne Gaby Odiele, it moved from a tarnished gold treatment at the shoulders to a transparent base and then towards the bottom was delicately adorned with a silver leaf motif that Van Noten made to look like it was ever so slightly peeling away from the garment. The jacket had front row guest Kanye West nodding in admiration.
When the models returned for the finale, but instead of the traditional quick ring around the runway decided to languidly repose along its green meadow carpet, it made the perfect poetic finish for this tour de force show.