The gold rectangle on the invitation preempted the huge metallic gold backdrop in the cavernous Halle Freyssinet, emphasizing what we already know: Dries Van Noten has the Midas touch. He is unstoppable right now. Testament to this were the legion of fans in the audience wearing the familiar camouflage prints from spring 2013.
The only prop in the vast space was a glittering gold and silver drum kit. To open the show, Cindy Blackman Santana, drummer for Lenny Kravitz and the wife of Carlos Santana, walked the length of the runway to rapturous applause and took her seat at the drum kit. With the lights reflecting off the metallic backdrop, sometimes blindingly, she proceeded to freestyle a brutally aggressive drum solo as the collection began.
And it was beautiful. Floral prints were presented in color combinations only Van Noten can pull off, and gold embroidery on waistbands and coating were a perfect juxtaposition to the feminine florals. The fabrications pushed the limits of menswear, with super lights and devores — all florally adorned, though somehow remaining masculine.
Next year Van Noten will celebrate a retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, and he said his fascination with florals came from investigating the museum's archives. His flowery choice also segued perfectly from his recent forays into camouflage, a repurposing of the fabric of war.
The models lined up against the backdrop one by one, finally filling the length of the space, with Cindy Blackman Santana still drumming unstoppably in the foreground. Van Noten took his exit to another round of rapturous applause and the boys stayed put while the drumming finished, so we could all take a long look at the clothes. It was an effortless theatrical production, executed with such confidence by a designer whose collections go from strength to strength.