Christian Lacroix makes a surprise appearance at Dries Van Noten
The secret was tightly guarded – right up until the end of the show. When Dries Van Noten finally took his bow with Christian Lacroix, few in the audience could claim to have seen the twist coming: the Belgian designer had invited the French couturier to create a collection with him. Before sending out this ready-to-wear collection with hints of couture at the Opéra Bastille on Wednesday, Lacroix had not set foot on a catwalk since 2009, when he closed his eponymous fashion house.
There were, nonetheless, several clues scattered throughout the spectacular show: red roses had been left on the audience's seats, along with a mysterious label reading "DVN x CLX," and the catwalk was elevated, similar to those popular in the 1980s. Certain looks also had a theatrical couture look, with frilled trains attached to flamenco dresses and polka dots galore. The sheer quantity of references should really have raised some suspicions around the unusual tone of the show, an extraordinary and intense event, of the kind that only the fashion world knows how to host.
This flamboyant spectacle was all the more unexpected because it took place in one of the storage areas of the Opéra Bastille, a kind of bunker decorated only with a long white runway and a grand piano, tucked away in a corner. Needless to say, when the pianist arrived and played the first note, the audience immediately fell silent.
A few more solitary notes followed, echoing out into the gigantic concrete space and making for a strangely solemn atmosphere, before Schubert's Trio n°2 began, a reference to Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lindon, the inspiration behind this collection for Spring-Summer 2020.
The first looks were austere outfits in black and white, but these quickly gave way to colourful ensembles in patchworks of floral motifs, animal prints and sumptuous fabrics. Brocade and damask in vivid shades of red, orange, yellow and pink were mixed with flower-splattered silk and embroidered satin, while pleats and frills adorned baroque coats and gypsy dresses. Elsewhere, golden embroidery spread over the shoulder of a black coat or crept across a simple grey jumper.
Black ribbons fluttered around the models' bodies or were printed onto cotton dresses and white jeans for a more contemporary twist. Delicate black feathers appeared on a dress and a bag, and were theatrically balanced on the top of some models' heads. Simple jumpers, skirts and trousers were paired with more luxurious pieces.
That was the beauty of this collection, which managed to beautifully combine its two designers' distinct fashion vocabularies, fusing the "protestant Dutch austerity mixed with Burgundian opulence" offered by the Belgian designer and the dazzling baroque flamboyance of Arles-born Lacroix. This resulted in a truly original collection where wraparound coats were coupled with flower-embroidered jeans, and shocking pink taffeta windbreakers were transformed into cape-dresses with trains or jackets embroidered with black pearls.
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