The only clue as to the theme of Dries Van Noten's show today was the similarity of the invitation to that for the men’s show in January, which saw the designer in an uncharacteristically youthful mood. No doubt he's been floating on air as he prepares for his major retrospective at Musée des Arts Décoratif, opening this week. But, tonight, it felt like a youth we were unfamiliar with, a reach into the past.
Often when a designer quotes the past, there is a certain nostalgia, but Dries is a master of the unexpected. His 60’s Op Art-inspired prints looked every bit as fresh and startling as they surely did in the 60s, with a beautiful handling of texture offset by the hand-painted look of the florals. It felt like the screenprinted brights of Andy Warhol clashing with the flat precision of British artist Bridget Riley. It was all so brash and wonderful.
Backstage I got chatting with Ingmari Lamy, a model who rose to prominence in the 60s, gracing the covers of both Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. I asked her what decade it felt like to her, and she replied that it had a feeling of the 20s. And on closer inspection, she was right. There was a heavy dose of deco in the shimmering sequins and the overt elegance. Juxtaposed together, the references were so elaborate, so deftly balanced, and so unexpected that it felt completely new.