Jan 20, 2023
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Dries Van Noten: Von Humboldt’s coolest current

Jan 20, 2023

A dark top floor of a forgotten garage was the curiously ideal location of a sensational collection by Dries Van Noten inspired by the ideas of the great German explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt.

Dries Van Noten - Fall-Winter2023 - 2024 - Menswear - France - Paris - © ImaxTree

An audience of barely 600 packed onto risers around the garage, where a drummer and synth player laid down a driving industrial track, as the cast swirled around them.
A collection that varied between elegantly off-beat tailoring, astutely judged elements of embroidery, stunning prints and just the right dose of street chic.

“The idea was to tap the energy and of the self-expression of rave artists from the 90s mixed with the surreal craziness of nature,” explained Van Noten, as he was showered with praise backstage.
“I started with von Humboldt, who travelled the world and invented the word ecology. And, also thinking about the influence of human beings on nature, and what is happening today, which is what he predicted back in the 1790s,” added the Belgian designer. Von Humboldt also recognized the famous saline current off the west coast of South America, which bears his name.
Dries’ team accessed the most famous botanical garden in Belgium, and delved into books of that period, he explained, grabbing a great puffer off a clothes rack to show the images of those flowers, magnified and photoshopped onto to a landscape print.

Dries Van Noten - Fall-Winter2023 - 2024 - Menswear - France - Paris - © ImaxTree

“We discovered incredible etchings of flowers that we blew up, so they became something very different and exciting,” stressed Dries, who used these prints in short puffers, dusters and clubbing redingotes.
Van Noten has always been a clever tailor, rarely more so in menswear than this season. Cutting forgiving double-breasted jackets over wide-legged pants that hung perfectly. Or strict velvet blazers, which he then paired with cargo pants. Even when the suits were made in pure black wool, they looked innovative.
He cut narrow waists and broader shoulders, adding lace effects to knitwear and letting lace hang off shirts. Even adding flora and fauna patches to herringbone coats, while eagles in flight were knitted across his chunky knits, as the models marched, and the drum rose to a furious crescendo.
“Elegance is always important!” insisted Dries.
In a word, this was one of those great shows that reminded you of why you first wanted to be a fashion editor; so inventive were the clothes, so strong was the sense that you were witnessing a cultured artist – which is what Dries is – creating something genuinely new and important. It was that good.

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