Progression is your friend, stagnation is the enemy. Nowhere is that as true as in fashion, an industry built on the concept of biannual renewal. Dries Van Noten
has spent the last few seasons slowly but steadily building and reinforcing his brand. Though its been around since 1986, as the current Les Arts Decoratifs exhibition so expertly documents, it’s arguably in the last few years that Dries has reached his current status of sartorial demi-god. Few people dislike the shows, everyone goes – even though Dries doesn’t advertise (sad but true, it’s the reason many attend other shows). Even though each season has been distinctively different and unique, there’s been a few red threads running through his work. A few years back it was described as “ethnic” and of late he took to favoring a sort of majestic aesthetic, characterized by florals and brocade. It worked. Every season.
But, and this is the definition of a great designer, Dries – as visible in his Spring/Summer 2014 collection – wasn’t happy with just continuing and maintaining that theme. Hence the Grand Palais show. Describing it as “sensual” (you could even argue it was “sexy” by Dries standards), the collection took on a new direction. Dries even showed off some naked skin – this was a comfortable and confident look. The Rudolph Nureyev inspiration allowed Dries to not only “undress” the models but also to bare his soul in an elegantly epic and poetic collection. They’re sometimes overused, clichéd and empty words, but Dries’ honest and personal account makes them necessary.
Tell me about the starting point and the main inspiration.
So the main starting point was really all about sensuality, it was very important to me to create something very fluid and elegant. Movement was very important so we were looking at Rudolph Nureyev and Rosas’ contemporary dance, and also a bit of Flash Dance, the movie; young kids with chopped off sweatshirts which we made from silk and viscose. All the elements of dancing attire where you have the high waisted pants, the leotards all these things which you try to push into contemporary fashion.
It arguably felt less masculine than previous seasons as a result.
For me, it was about trying to find a different masculinity because automatically when you think about masculinity you see kind of a rock/cool guy and this for me is more masculine than that.
What about some of the symbols? There was the gothic “R” and the “1971″ graphic.
All those things were referring to the film Valentino, made by Ken Russell starring Nureyev and Rosas. So the “R” comes back several times. And 1971 was an important year for Nureyev, it was his breakthrough year and he became very established.
Are there any keys pieces that summarize the collection?
The most important thing is those holsters you saw with the straps. Where you have dance costumes there’s always just a hint of costume because they need all the movement that they can get, so I’ve always used that element and that’s what’s most important in this collection.