Coronavirus? Facemasks? Dries Van Noten delivers OTT high-octane antidote in Paris

Paris Fashion Week: No matter how glitzy, flashy, shiny or ostentatious, the Belgian designer's show oozed extravagance and glamour

Models wearing designs by  Dries Van Noten at Paris Fashion Week on Wednesday. Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

Models wearing designs by Dries Van Noten at Paris Fashion Week on Wednesday. Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

 

“Now more than ever, we need to escape, to dream,” said Dries Van Noten backstage after his high-octane winter collection held in the brutalist vaults of Opera Bastille where last season his unforgettable collaboration with Christian Lacroix took place.

He said then that the experience of working with an 80s and 90s couture designer associated with beauty, excess and freedom was liberating and maybe that approach powered this glittering, flamboyant, over-the-top winter show.

The theme was nocturnal extravagance and glamour from 1930s Hollywood to the London club scenes of the 1970s soundtracked to slowcore rock singer Michelle Gurevich’s Party Girl – whose words, “It doesn’t matter what you create as long as you have fun”, echoed the spirit of the collection as the models strode out in oversize shearling leather jackets, floral velvet flares, sequined sheaths and python jackets, each primed for night-time action.

Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters
Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters
Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images
Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

Kinky patent boots and glam platforms were pure Ziggy Stardust, while 3D flower trims, glittering chokers, silver orb earrings and gold gauntlet gloves were par for the course.

When it comes to putting manners on clothes, nobody does it better than the Belgian designer. No matter how glitzy, flashy, shiny or ostentatious the combination of fabrics – usually considered gaudy and not conventionally associated with what is called good taste – they look sensational in his hands.

Take a long velvet devore coat with turquoise lapels worn over floral flares and snakeskin platforms, or a a shiny neon and pink jacquard pant suit or a floor-skimming black sequin gown trimmed with black marabou feathers. Unlikely? But they worked.

It was a freewheeling no holds barred mix of matt and metallic, of minimalism and maximalism with fringing, an emerging trend for next winter evident here as elsewhere.

Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters
Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters
Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images
Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images
Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters
Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

For the more fainthearted, there were some heart-stopping dresses – an elegant black affair was embellished with rich purple décor on the shoulders, while another in a glittering amber metallic mesh was worn with clogs. Blowsy florals on a rubberised raincoat enlivened a rudimentary daywear item, as did a languid tweed coat slouched over plaid pants. Van Noten also showed how to mix tartan trousers with shaggy wool jackets in ways that might encourage a woman to be more daring and carefree.

With colour he is masterful and the palette this season was broad and wild – shades like wine, neon green, cognac, purple, lilac, orange, emerald, lapis and gun metal telling their own story.

“I loved the mix of fabrics,” said Shelly Corkery of Brown Thomas afterwards, “and all those velvets, check winter coats and high-shine embellishment.”

Given the black and white face masks worn by many of the guests and show attendants handing out cleansing gels beforehand in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis, the flights of fantasy on the catwalk were a distraction from the otherwise grim realities of the outside world.

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