DRIES VAN NOTEN, INSPIRATIONS

HAPPENINGText: Valerie Douniaux

After presenting the work of such iconic figures of fashion as Madeleine Vionnet or Yohji Yamamoto, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris now offers an insight into the world of one of Belgium’s most renowned contemporary designers, one of the famous Antwerp Six, Dries Van Noten.

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© Tadzio, Courtesy the artist ; Kamel Mennour, Paris, and Pace Gallery, New York

The word Inspirations, chosen as a title, perfectly embodies the spirit of the exhibition, which lead us on a journey into the creator’s own cultural references and sources of inspiration, each of his collections being based on a particular theme. Therefore, contrary to many designers, whose style clearly changes along the years, it seems with Van Noten than most of the staple elements of his vocabulary were there from the first, and that the designer has only had to pick into these references and refine them according to the mood of each season.

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© Tadzio, Courtesy the artist ; Kamel Mennour, Paris, and Pace Gallery, New York

The show reveals Van Noten’s extensive knowledge of fashion history, and his huge appetite for art and culture of all kinds (with a predominance of British references).

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© Tadzio, Courtesy the artist ; Kamel Mennour, Paris, and Pace Gallery, New York

Exploring the museum’s splendid collections, Van Noten’s has even selected some pieces that became a source of inspiration for his work, particularly several 19th century textile patterns that appear in his 2014 men’s and women’s Spring/Summer ready-to-wear, presented in Paris in 2013.

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© Tadzio, Courtesy the artist ; Kamel Mennour, Paris, and Pace Gallery, New York

Born in 1958 in a family of tailors, the fashion designer has succeeded in merging his precious heritage with the vocabulary of our times. He shows a knack for mixing elements from all periods of history and from all over the world. Dries Van Noten’s mastering of mix and match, and of the tricky art of layering, has few peers and is not without recalling Yves Saint-Laurent. Few designers can find perfect balance within an association of very different prints, that could easily become loud and messy.

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© Tadzio, Courtesy the artist ; Kamel Mennour, Paris, and Pace Gallery, New York

Van Noten’s outfits are like bunches of wonderfully coloured flowers, which find echo on the entrance door and on the walls of the second floor, in the giant collages especially created by Japanese artist Makoto Azuma. Both eccentric and elegant, Dries Van Noten’s clothes nevertheless always seem perfectly incredibly comfortable, the loose dresses letting the body move freely, the silky fabrics, with their extraordinary complex prints, gracefully flowing along with the gestures of the wearer.

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© Tadzio, Courtesy the artist ; Kamel Mennour, Paris, and Pace Gallery, New York

The exhibition is quite dense, each collection (both of women and men’s wear) being presented with a selection of inspirational outfits, from ancient times or by other designers.

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© Tadzio, Courtesy the artist ; Kamel Mennour, Paris, and Pace Gallery, New York

Videos of Van Noten’s shows, and other references such as movie extracts, posters, or even genuine paintings by great artists, complete each display, creating a coherent ensemble. Visitors therefore often feel as if rummaging in a precious and incredibly rich treasure trove, full of surprising discoveries. A treasure trove that seems very appealing to the audience, as the show, which was supposed to close at the end of August, has been announced to be prolonged until the 2nd of November.

Dries Van Noten, Inspirations
Date: March 1st – November 2nd, 2014
Opening hours: 11:00 – 18:00 (till 21:00 on Thursday)
Holiday: Monday
Place: the Musée des Arts Décoratifs
Address: 107, rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 44 55 57 50
http://www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr

Text: Valerie Douniaux

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