Three painters were still busy working on a massive mural inside a second floor hall at the Grand Palais when Dries van Noten’s fall men’s collection took to the runway. The artists were commissioned to recreate the colorful work of Dutch artists Gijs Frieling and Job Wouters, and had, in fact, been working for the past 24 hours (their oeuvre can be seen in a time elapsed video can be seen atdriesvannoten.com). The painters ignored the models walking behind them and continued working on their canvas wall.
The colorful mural, which also featured quotes from Oscar Wilde, set the tone for a collection that was meant to embody what the designer dubbed ‘psychedelic elegance.’ A white psychedelic-printed long coat worn with a white wool turtleneck and jeans opened the show, followed by various incarnations of these dense prints on jeans, shirts and jackets. Prints have always been a Van Noten trademark–recall the cityscape prints in his spring women’s collection–and here the surrealist print jacquard added a flare to a black tie jacket.
Despite of the prevailing psychedelic-Oscar Wilde-inspiration, Mr. Van Noten never allowed it to intervene with his proven track record of making serious clothes for the fashion man. A visit to his men’s store on the Quai Malaquais would dispel any notion of a divorce between the runway show and the business of selling clothes. There along the rack mounted on the painted walls, what’s on the runway is represented in multiple colors as well as fabric choice. For the Belgian designer, fashion is business first.