Wild Masculinity

Dries Van Noten SS20
Fashion | 21 June 2019

Dries Van Noten is an absolute master of colour, print and textile manipulation – fact. This season the Belgian designer’s credentials dazzled across some 50 patterns and prints. Like a psychedelic tapestry, it made the final walkthrough quite spectacular: a fizzy profusion of flowers, leopard and zebra all glittering to a electro dance medley courtesy of Belgian DJ duo Soulwax. And this mash-up soundtrack reflected Van Noten’s design narrative: to slice and splice mixtures of masculine archetypes, blurring their distinctions along the way – all refracted through the gel filters of a Euro nightclub.

This is a typical move of the Antwerp-Six designer: stimulate desire with pieces that strike a nuance of both adventurousness and familiarity. He’s previously stated that it’s how he makes vivid colours so compelling: put them on easy silhouettes.

“Loverboy, Hustler Bright, cocky, instinctive, feral, flashy, underworld hero, adorned, testosterone, ballsy, rough, gruff, impulsive. Virile to a max.” The release spoke of Van Noten’s ingredients, which translated across louche, feminine tailoring, macs featuring cityscape prints by Japanese photographer Mika Ninagawa and trippy flower prints that distorted in bloom. Ruffle-front shirts and glistening tuxedo pieces spoke of Vegas lounge singers, while leopard print robes, silk shorts, belt chains and lots of leather led us down to the seedier parts of town.

Citing inspirations like arthouse film Pink Narcissus, the collection was (though nothing new for Van Noten) dream-like and cinematic. But far from rehashing tropes, he fleshed-out a diverse spectrum of masculine identity, personality and inner life. Modern masculinity? From loverboys to hustlers, here was a mash-up of “man tropes, attitudes and predilection” – in all their wild and wonderful splendor.

GALLERYBackstage at this show