Dries Van Noten’s Color-Filled Dissonance

By Kati Vereshaka
Kati Vereshaka
Kati Vereshaka
October 1, 2015 Updated: October 2, 2015

Much like in a thriller with a disturbingly likable villain, Belgian designer Dries Van Noten plays director, in his ready-to-wear collection, to his main protagonist – dissonance—the muse that has been influencing Van Noten since his early career in the 1980’s.

We, the audience, might be tempted to play forensic psychologists in an attempt to justify the colour carnage of before us, while we linger over every glorious detail.

The variety of fabric design that he was exposed to as a child growing up in a family of fabric merchants, would have no doubt, taught him by osmosis the principles of color matching. And then, at some point, the predictability of those principles must have reached critical mass, fueling Van Noten relentless search for a new aesthetic. Perhaps he seeks a harmony of a different kind, perhaps he cannot believe that our modern minds still find those color principles infinitely inspiring rather than the cliché from which he is so relentless to distance himself.

Yet, the collection he showed in Paris is testimony to the fact that he remains unabashed in his love of sumptuous fabrics. Vibrantly colored silk jacquards and brocades, were combined with prints of equal color intensity. There were also rich textural embellishments with sequins superimposed on an already pattern-saturated background.

It doesn’t take long to realize that the eager Van Noten buyer will know exactly which pieces they covet so as to pair them with more predictable basics, that may not necessarily be created by the same designer. People are funny like that. It seldom happens that a European woman would wear the prescribed ensemble just as it is presented on the runway. 

A model presents a creation by Dries Van Noten during the 2016 Spring/Summer ready-to-wear collection fashion show, on September 30, 2015 in Paris.        AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOT        (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
A model presents a creation by Dries Van Noten during the 2016 Spring/Summer ready-to-wear collection fashion show, on September 30, 2015 in Paris. AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS GUILLOT (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

So, seen through pragmatism-colored glasses, Van Noten’s latest creations are reassuringly wondrous.

A recurrent motif in the collections was a leaf-like spiral—part organic, part cosmic—it reminds us of many things yet we never get the satisfaction of being able to pinpoint its exact visual or cultural source. And that’s the way that Van Noten likes it. It might even be called some sort of suspense.