Everyone loves a solid remix, and that includes designer Dries Van Noten, who tapped fellow Belgians Soulwax (also known as 2manydjs, depending on the era you grew up in) to soundtrack his Spring/Summer 2020 collection. The sonic duo, brothers Stephen and David Dewaele, reworked their track “NY Lipps” for the show. The original song, released in 2005, is a mash-up of 2manydjs’ “NY Excuse” and Lipps Inc.’s disco banger “Funkytown.”
The heyday of DJ mash-ups, when 2manydjs were major hitters in the club scene alongside acts such as Girl Talk, offers perfect context for where men’s fashion is today. Toeing the line between the familiar and the new, taking two or more seemingly discordant tracks and fusing them into something entirely different, really speaks to the eclectic, anything-goes attitude found in contemporary menswear collections, not to mention the carefree approach most men take while getting dressed.
Wearing a T-shirt and sneakers with a suit is nothing. A formal topcoat over a hoodie and sweatpants has become shorthand for urban chic in the winter. Van Noten dubs his approach “Archi-Fluidity,” playing with menswear archetypes and tropes to create looks he describes as “Las Vegas meets Buenos Aires,” or “dash and dazzle.”
Shimmery hot pink silk pants somehow complement a leopard-print robe and goldenrod shirt, creating a cool kind of unity in which one piece never overpowers the others. Fluorescent cityscape photo prints by Mika Ninagawa appear on mac coats, tempered with deep red floral print trousers. Tiger-stripe camo feels elevated and aspirational rather than streetwear and utilitarian. One particular standout is an exploded sunflower print coat with a noticeable sheen, channeling maximalist ’90s style at its finest.
Elsewhere on the show’s soundtrack was Nancy Whang of LCD Soundsystem and The Juan MacLean (fellow giants of the mid-’00s mash-up dance-punk era) reading an excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s poem “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”: “For each man kills the thing he loves. Yet each man does not die.”
Perhaps this is Van Noten’s way of establishing the need for a new era of menswear, one that returns to a more classic sense of elegance, while at the same time retaining its youthful soul and exuberance.