Dries Van Noten, one of the influential ‘Antwerp Six’ design collective, launched his eponymous label in 1986. His revolutionary designs approach womenswear with innovation, artistry and a certain saviour-faire.

For Spring/Summer 19, Van Noten craved a fresh approach, swapping his signature grandeur for the minimal. The collection isn’t transgressive; instead, it represents the liminal zone between delicate and refined, reality and fantasy, couture and ready-to-wear.

The designer is no stranger to the industry. He is the third generation of his family to work in fashion with both his father and grandfather pursuing a career in tailoring. In the 1970s his father opened a boutique on the outskirts on Antwerp selling labels such as Emanuel Ungaro, Ermenegildo Zegna and Salvatore Ferragamo. That allowed Van Noten to experience menswear shows in Milan and Paris and influenced his interest in fashion.

Dries Van Noten stated that the new season’s primary ethos is the “clashing and harmonious, spontaneous and deliberate; it is a collection of contradictions created for the woman of today”. The designer proves that workwear-meets-eveningwear is the fresh and functional aesthetic to define the modern woman. SS19 brings crisp-plain tees with shoulder pads and abstract florals with a palette of vibrant orange and deep purple.

Van Noten designed show invitations in collaboration with artist Luke Stephenson, which featured illustrations derived from Stephenson’s art series entitled: An Incomplete Dictionary of Show Birds. Perhaps, this was an appetizer for what would be a translation of Van Noten’s vision. Movement, colour, feathers, the conventional associations with birds manifested themselves throughout the collection. Like a procession of exotic birds, the models took to the runway in feathered pieces and bright colours.

Although SS19 was primarily a colourful affair, it was the foundation of neutrals that allowed for such a bold colour palette. A white cotton canvas allowed the fashion to stand for nothing but itself. Paradoxically, Van Noten claimed that he “does not want to make couture”; instead he “wants to make clothes”. Van Noten’s pragmatic notion seems almost hypocritical, as he gestures towards accents of couture. He pushes the boundaries of fashion enough to be extraordinary, and yet, his collection remains wearable. Dense, hand-painted floral patterns reminiscent of 1950s couture are softened against off-duty masculine tailoring.

The designer’s artistry is exemplified in a collection that offers such harmonious contradictions: bold hand-painted brushstrokes on a sinuous pleated skirt matched against a trompe l’oeil digital printed silk dress. Gentle cottons, glittering plastics and opulent silks allowed for a contemporary take on everyday classics that Van Noten described as “elegant and informal” and “utilitarian and sumptuous”. His collection is personal; it subverts the meaning of “power dressing”, bringing to light femininity and charm. Each item is designed for the modern woman, whether she needs a midi-dress to slip on with tonal, heeled sandals for a night out, or pair with boots for the office, there is an item for every occasion!

Dries Van Noten Spring/Summer 19 is available in-store. Call as at 01372 464 604 for more information.

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