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Paris Fashion Week: It's win, place and show at Dries Van Noten

June 29, 2011 |  6:22 pm


Many of the spring and summer 2012 men's collections that hit the runways of Milan and Paris over the last two weeks have referenced the sporting life, from leisure-time pursuits (such as Prada's golf moment) and the upcoming London Olympics (Vivienne Westwood Man, Missoni) to competitive sports of the upper class (Moncler Gamme Bleu's fencing-themed collection).

But according to Dries Van Noten, he didn't start out with the notion of creating a collection that drew inspiration from horse racing and the equestrian arts; that's just where he ended up. "We were doing all these technical things -- garment bonding and taping -- to these light silks and satins and I started thinking about circumstances in which a man might find them appropriate to wear, which lead to the idea of jockey's silks."


That result was a collection that included skinny-legged trousers with an extra-narrow ankle, Color-blocked blousons with deep V-shapes angling in from shoulders to navel, and barley-colored tweed jackets with leather detailing.


There was also a touch of nautical-preppy flair: navy blue blazers; a red-white-and-blue horizontal stripe pattern appearing on trousers, shirts and generously cut Bermuda shorts; parkas and windbreakers in a crumpled blue nylon so lightweight it billowed with every step as if buffeted by a sea breeze; and a narrow, vertical version of the tricolor stripe that was vaguely reminiscent of semaphore signals.

The collection was heavy on the outerwear pieces -- and heavy-handed on the technical details: Thick, black hot-melt adhesive tape (usually used on a garment's interior for waterproofing purposes) framed the exteriors of pockets, accented zippers and appeared as patches; even sandals could be seen sporting strips of the tape across the top of the foot; and garment bonding was used extensively. But it was all balanced out by the simple, crisp, white dress shirts, the one-piece jumpsuits in washed silk and the open-weave knit sweaters.


The result was a collection that managed to meld the elegance of nearly diaphanous luxury fabrics with the advances of technical outerwear, and it puts Van Noten squarely in Paris Fashion Week's winner's circle.


Paris Fashion Week: Dries Van Noten's symphony of color and print

Paris Fashion Week: Dries Van Noten's hero worship

Paris Fashion Week: Lazy days with Dries Van Noten

-- Adam Tschorn in Paris

Photos: Looks from the Dries Van Noten spring-summer 2012 runway collection shown during Paris Fashion Week. Credit: Michel Euler / Associated Press