'She’s a very spontaneous woman, she’s a free spirit, she just goes for it,' says Dries Van Noten of his A/W 18 woman this season. That phrase could just as easily be Van Noten describing himself. He’s known for being scrupulous and incredibly particular but is certainly spontaneous in his design approach too. He is a free spirit in the sense that he designs in his own unique way; he shows twice a year - doing away with all the additional Cruise malarky, and is privately owned and thus can 'go for it' any which way he so chooses.
For A/W 18, he chose to try and capture fluidity, the natural, untrained and unkempt creativity that pours out of oneself: doodling when on the phone for example. Van Noten had taken the idea of a simple scrawling and had had it lovingly hand-recreated and ubiquitously placed upon jacket, coat, skirt, shirt and even shoe. There’s no denying there’s something special about a Dries print - they feel artisanal and special - but with so many looks and so much of the same print, at times it felt a little difficult to wade through.
The looks just kept on coming! This hand-drawn print began to spiral into an obsessive doodle which looked almost as if op-art. Apt considering that for this collection, Dries Van Noten was also talking about graphic seventies glam. Today's hedonistic trip was the explorative free-thinker. This Dries woman is uninhibited and relaxed, she’s kitted in pencil skirts with fun and freeing marabou trim, faux Afghan coats, taffeta, raffia, silks, beading - a textural cornucopia for the woman who can create what she wants when she wants. The seventies musical epic that played overhead, Deep Purple’s Child in Time, felt heady and intoxicating when met with the neons, ochres and purples of the thick shaggy coats and embellished platform shoes.
The feathers that slashed across silken skirt and on thick rich scarf were mirrored in the beauty; Sam McKnight had delicately placed bright slices of feather into models’ hairlines and eyelashes were painted in bold striking colours as if feathers themselves. The beauty was encouragingly youthful, as occasionally Van Noten’s collections can seem too meditated or mature for the younger market. His consistency, while a truly commendable attribute, can be off-putting to the younger shopper who is used to a flash-in-the-pan hype-worthy item. Regardless of age, there isn’t a woman who can’t wear this collection. Van Noten has delivered, as he does time and time again, another potent mix of joyous eccentricity.