Dries Van Noten’s Golden Moment SS14

(Images via Vogue. For all images, click for caption and gallery view.)

To the Halle Freyssinet in Paris, a huge industrial railway space built alongside the tracks of the Gare d’Austerlitz in the late 1920s, Dries Van Noten brought both sides of the bright-dark spectrum with his SS14 collection. He gave us a sense both of refined warmth and edginess, and as always exquisitely wearable clothes.

Clothes that we want to wear now: gilt ruffle down the side of a white dress, yes please! Ruffles on a sweatshirt; again, yes! Sleek tailoring in black, dresses with a sense of evening drama, brilliant separates that could be mixed and matched for night or day. An amazing barbed wire print that managed to look delicate yet dangerous.

(Images via Vogue.)

To the sound of Colin Greenwood (of Radiohead)’s bass solo, in this vast industrial, golden-hued set, the palette stretched from white to black, with reds and ochres the principal colours besides. Embellishments of gilt edging and ruffles on (and in) brocades, metallics, textured knits, guipure lace, silk, linen, cotton and voile, were matched with folk references and floral patterns.

The prettiness of opening looks in white and gold was built up and then contrasted with a trouser, a blouse, a blazer, an embellished tunic, and then full looks, in black. Hints of gold were found in the models’ hair partings and on their eyelashes. The understated and unexpected barbed wire print in black on ochre on a hip-skimming Fortuny pleated skirt, where it seemed like a motif of reeds or bare branches, was seen again on a skirt made entirely of ruffles; the barbed wire only becoming clearly apparent when the print appeared again on a beautiful ruffle-embellished dress.

(Images via Vogue.)

After ochre, came red: the introduction of red on black, and the picking up of SS13‘s floral motifs, in this collection frequently embellished with sequins and instead of ‘grunge couture’ pastels the bold contrast of red on black (which usually seems so 80s, but here, just seemed, well, striking). (Tim Blanks coined the phrase ‘grunge couture’ very aptly after the SS13 show, which I loved and will write about in another post:  it spoke to my inner haute-bohème grungified teenager (I know, I know!), still present in spirit if not in sartorial choices. I was also a teenager who favoured white Peter Pan collars and cuffs on black minidresses à la Valentino AW13 – still do – but that is another post in the making.)

(Images via Vogue.)

In the post-show video piece for Vogue, Dries speaks of pushing the idea of embellishment and seeing how far he could go. Ruffles were the dominant embellishment, from neat frills in unusual places (the side seams of the first look for example)  to multiple rows in a skirt made of ruffles. The romance of peasant-blouse shapes mixed with folk references: re-imagined Peruvian, Moroccan and Indonesian textile embellishment and cowrie shell detailing (which appeared again on sandals); prints encompassed stars, again on an ochre base, tiny dots, red on black, and the branch-like barbed wire print, black on ochre.

The colour palette and print theme extended to accessories, with Chelsea boots, and flat and heeled sandals, in python and alligator, red-on-black, ochre-on-black. Stars also featured in jewellery, strewn around wrists and on collarbones. From the graphic floral motif seen in SS13, to the exploration of tulip references which appeared more like seventeenth-century botanical prints, and at which point the palette expanded to encompass other colours, other tones, there was a clear nod to the SS14 menswear collection shown in June, and references to the collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, which will (excitingly) showcase the designer’s work in its forthcoming Dries Van Noten exhibition, to be held in early 2014.

(Images via Vogue.)

The alternating of dominant white and dominant black was striking, moving between prettiness and edginess throughout the collection, as Dries explained in the Vogue post-show video, and effortlessly between day and night. The ruffles theme was extended to sportswear elements, with embellishment over shorts, then ruffles on sweatshirts.

Always thinking of the customer and the wearability of his garments, black, white, grey and gold were the dominant colours of the final looks, simplifying and distilling the essence of the collection, while pushing embellishment to fantasy limits, for a clear message to the buyers, editors, assembled media and beyond them the customers; with the final look seeming celebratory, almost bridal in its effusion of ruffles; looks set against a gold background, sent out to the sounds of Colin Greenwood’s bass. Stripped back as a soundtrack – echoing the menswear show’s solo drummer – but highly charged, like Dries’s beautiful want-to-wear-(or customize-what-I-have)-right-now SS14 collection.

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(Images via Vogue.)

What do you think: to ruffle or not to ruffle?

A la prochaine, bisou!

Sinéad

================================

For SS14 show video, see Dries Van Noten.

For full show looks, close-up and  backstage details, and post-show commentary from Dries, Cathy Horyn, Valerie Steele and others, see Vogue (scroll down for video).

For Beauty Report, and details on ‘gilded accents’ in hair, and on eyelashes, see US Vogue.

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