Fashion Review: Offline and On Point at Dries Van Noten

What happens when you stop fixating on the small screen? Answers of sorts at Dries Van Noten and Chloé.
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Dries Van Noten Fall 2018 RTW

Thank you, Dries! On Wednesday afternoon, within the gilded majesty of the Hotel de Ville, Dries Van Noten sent a compelling reminder that sometimes the pure fashion experience is enough. It was an important message at a time when many designers are utilizing their runways to wax profound about our complicated, polarized world, rife with dissonance and changing mores and worldviews. That’s great; fashion must reflect its times.
But speaking to the moment doesn’t only mean mining its dark side. Once upon a time, fashion was good for what ailed you. Bottom line, that remains its primary purpose. Fashion can’t right the world’s ills, but it can provide necessary moments of respite: enticement, enchantment, the thought that I might look my very best in this or that dress.
That’s what Van Noten’s collection was all about: clothes to love, and more importantly, to love yourself in. “It really [addresses] the free spirit with free hands, no boundaries just, like, go for it,” Van Noten said during a preview.
No boundaries, perhaps, but savvy awareness of fashion’s current realities. Hence the integration of utilitarian sportswear in high-tech materials. But rather than clobber you with it, Van Noten integrated it into his signature masculine-feminine dialogue,

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Dries Van Noten Men’s Fall 2018

Taking over a vast garage in Paris’ Canal Saint-Martin district, with models tracing its edge on a raised podium before hitting the ground, Dries Van Noten pulled off one of the season’s strongest shows yet.
A curious mix of combinations went into the shaker, like Las Vegas-style Western garb, white broderie anglaise pants, military parkas, suits in traditional British checks, granny crochet cardigans and pajama stripes. There was also a hint of pimp and a hearty dose of punk, such as a look pairing a glittery zebra sweater with tartan pants.
But it was all so well-balanced that it formed a fun, cohesive, rich but cool whole.
Even the more daring elements were digested perfectly into the looks. Case in point: a minimalist navy tracksuit traced with lines of tan cowboy-shirt piping.
Van Noten continued to play with oversize proportions in the slouchy suits, boxy trenchcoats and the baggy pants.
The designer’s magic colorist instincts climaxed in an Instagenic run of anoraks in swirling colored marble-y prints recalling Venetian paper or spun paint, with models gathering in a painterly formation for the finale.
The open-border mixing of cultures worked best on a tropical print pajama shirt paired with a fantasy leopard print skinny pant and snakeskin

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