Dries Van Noten celebrates his century
A bona fide fashion moment at Dries Van Noten, whose catwalk featured dozens of fashion runway legends dazzling inside the darkness of the Salle Marcel Cerdan boxing ring of Bercy and cheering up a dank wet Paris Wednesday. A casting of greatest-hit models, for a show based on a greatest-hits selection of Van Noten’s own fabrics.
In an age when independent designers find it increasingly difficult to survive without the muscle of a giant luxury conglomerate or the backing of an investment fund, Van Noten still manages to thrive on his very own terms. And to create great fashion statements to celebrate important milestones in his career. For his 50th show in 2004, Van Noten staged a dinner party for 300 editors and buyers – each with their own designated waiter – and then got his cast to march down the table inside a giant disused Pratt & Whitney factory north of Paris. Another 50 shows later, on Wednesday, he generously flew in over a score of ex-supermodels from New York and Los Angeles to grace the French capital – Nadja Auermann, Trish Goff, Michelle Hicks, Liya Kebede, Alek Wek and Erin O’Connor.
Some fellow Belgians could take the train from Brussels like runway legends Anna Oost, Elise Crombez or Guinevere von Seenus, while local It Gal Caroline de Maigret just needed an Uber.
Several were stars of epic Helmut Lang shows, like uber-beauty Amber Valletta, stunning in a mannish blood orange pantsuit, cut in Van Noten’s famed oversized silhouette. For fall 2017, Dries riffed on his signature tunes – forgiving volume and an eclecticism that mixes ethnic imagery, manly tailoring, sportswear and scores of prints from his own archives.
Like on superstar Carolyn Murphy, poised in a dazzling shirtdress made in a revamped floral print from a 2014 show. Helpfully, Van Noten left a booklet of some of his favorite historic prints on each seat, all of which had been overprinted or embroidered with geometric shapes in vivid colors.
Enthused Valletta backstage: “I am just so honored to be in Dries' 100th show. Who would not be?”
Carving his own path, Van Noten never buys any ad pages in glossy magazines. He does not even have an ad campaign. He won’t even sign a perfume license, even though beauty companies would pay him an arm and a leg. Yet he continues to prosper and create great fashion and to stage marvelous shows. He earned a standing ovation today in Paris, and merited every clap.
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