Dries van Noten is one of the few designers who work to the beat of his own drum, who creates how he sees fit. He doesn’t conform to trends or bow to the spectacle, he creates beautifully experimental patterns and colourways, pushing boundaries with his signature stylings. So when news broke that Van Noten had sold a majority stake to Barcelona-based fashion and fragrance company Puig, one began to wonder whether his independence had been squandered.
One needn’t have worried. This collection was, as usual, a buoyant riot of colour and pattern. Van Noten had been given the permission to utilise the archive of Danish design icon Verner Panton. Panton recently collaborated with Prada on their transparent inflatable stools, but here his patterned works provided a rainbow swirling statement with multi-layered waves.
'Playing with colour is not always easy, but we like a challenge,' says Van Noten in his Q+A video. Van Noten certainly makes it look easy, stretching and re-aligning those Panton prints to fit the form. Blue waves squiggled up t-shirt, tracksuit, denim jacket and hooded mackintosh, in electric shades of bright blues, yellows, oranges and greens. As seventies prints sat atop sportswear silhouettes, this collection felt both retro and modern - as is often the case with Van Noten’s work.
There was a slight twist toward the commercial this season as tracksuit materials were introduced alongside slip-on and an oversized t-shirt, but this was juxtaposed with elevated 'curtain' fabrics and high-tech nearly plastic materials. Panton's designs took on a new sensibility and were spread in variation across jacket or swim-short, the pop of brights adding an unbridled optimism.
Overall, this collection felt strangely elegant - one wanted to reach out and touch the range of textures presented here. Van Noten has done it again it seems. Another warm, wearable collection that remains true to the codes of the brand. Fans can breathe a sigh of relief, the Dries Van Noten we know and love is here to stay for now.