I’ve never been to a Dries Van Noten show, but I wait patiently each season to check the new collection once it’s posted online. I’ve been a fan for seven or eight years now, which is only a small fraction of how long Van Noten has been making clothing—he debuted his first collection in 1986. This is my seventh trip to Paris in the last four years, and I’ve been here for Fashion Week each time. I assumed the newness of going to a fashion show and the excitement that comes with it had faded away, but when I was presented with the opportunity to see Dries Van Noten’s Fall/Winter 2018 show, that giddy feeling came right back.

In the past, I’d been to shows with future editorial work in mind—mainly thinking how to best present the brand’s vision funneled through our (I worked for a now-defunct store called Carson Street a couple of years back) own interpretation, and how to best cover a show and collection for our blog. This time, I had the intention of covering the show from my own perspective, capturing the photos how I best saw fit, and reflecting on what I saw objectively. Sarah Mower of Vogue writes, “The fact that Dries Van Noten made it known, through his press attaché, that he did not want to speak to reporters before or after his men’s show was probably the most intriguing thing about it.” I won’t dive into Dries Van Noten’s background, but if you’re reading this, you’re most likely aware he is a legend. He operates on a system separate of the average designer. What I mean is, he doesn’t adhere to trends, he isn’t out to prove himself any longer, he actually designs the clothing in his collections, and, well...he doesn’t need to do interviews or speak on a collection if he doesn’t want to.

Now, I’m saying Dries Van Noten wasn’t going to talk to press as if I somehow had a shot—I didn’t. But I didn’t even have some form of press release, so all I can tell you is that this show seemed a bit different from what I’ve seen in the past. Yes, it was still very Dries—detailed embroideries (all done in India by hand as per Dries, the documentary covering Van Noten currently available to stream on Netflix), interesting graphic prints, plays on traditional menswear fabrics, crochets and eyelet details—but the models were all so young. Any Dries Van Noten show I’ve looked at has typically featured a wide age range, speaking to the versatility of the brand and its wearability.

The venue was dark and only the models were lit. It forced your eye to the clothes in a more pressing way than the average show does. The models walked a long path, and you had plenty of time to take in all the details that were at play. Between every few looks, Van Noten sent some form of handpainted garment down the runway. It was both psychedelic and arresting and again, demanded your full attention. For the finale, Van Noten sent each model back out in a handpainted piece, a beautiful cacophony of marbleized colors in multiple varieties of outerwear—anoraks, parkas, bomber jackets, mackintosh coats (naturally, the word grail came to mind).

I won’t posit some form of deeper meaning, especially without having Van Noten’s own words down on paper, but I will say that one of the best things you can do in life is experience someone of great skill mastering their craft. It’s no secret we’re living in increasingly dark times and I think we need to hold the things (and people) we love close, and celebrate them. I’m just happy Van Noten is continuing to share his brilliance with us.

Tags: dries-van-noten, paris-fashion-week