Monday, June 27, 2011



The march of cool
@ Dries Van Noten 
photo by SONNY PHOTO
To say that there's "plenty to like" from the Spring 2012 Dries Van Noten show is a simple way of acknowledging the fact that this season, is definitely one of its most wearable and "awesomest" collections to date. In my book at least. The quiet cool and focused energy Dries Van Noten's clothes always come out with is a success every season and I believe this is exactly why I consider Dries Van Noten a heavyweight champ in the school of masculine cool.

Opening and closing the show in strong, navy, layered and rain-ready looks is the seemingly overarching theme of the show: clothes geared to stand the changing demands of the weather and the times. Tim Blanks humors us in his great writing that Dries Van Noten has prepped us all for The Flood. It's a possibility, and while Dries Van Noten really takes inspiration from the outdoors and the tons of activities to do, Mr. Blanks does handsomely well to point out that these looks present a rather dangerous outdoors. How dangerous? Well, there is indeed an intensity that lined the show, as Mr. Blanks said, as if the weather conditions are on mad heights most of the time. To the trained eye it's visible in the "tensions" on shape, construction and color. But to my eye---a trainee still, it's mostly on the hues and how layers are built upon each other.

You could take your cues from the awesome showroom itself: an industrial floor all in gray and on its center, a line of steel beams stricken with red and dark gray, echoed in the tough and almost everything-proof hues of the collection. Navy blue suits and lengthy parkas, black, looking liquid on light trousers or tough on heavy rain coats, brown on sweaters and part of a trinity of stripes, burgundy on jackets, trousers and plastic rain jackets, all of which are lifted up in "industrial brights" (as Mr. Blanks describes) of orange, white, sand and yellow.

Though inspired by the great outdoors and the challenges of the elements (most specifically of water), there's a surprising twist to the collection. As parkas go heavy and to an extent overwhelming, layers like building blocks to form an armor and textures ranging from the silky to the waterproof to the gauzy and back in wrinkly cotton (not to mention the "double" trend seen on a half-leather, half-nylon rain jacket), the execution is urbane. The clean layering of three items, say a striped blouson over wide-legged shorts over slim-cut trousers, is testament to Dries Van Noten's know-how on balance and proportion. It doesn't choke you on too much but it does suit you in protection for those trying weather changes. In the hands of others, this noble cause to dress the man ready for the outdoors and at the same time make him look cool will probably tip the scales too much on either side, but here, the results are stunning.

Whether it's for The Flood, fishing out by the cool seas of Europe, hunting for some wild beast backyard or just a stroll from show-to-show during next season's Menswear collections, what Dries Van Noten has done is a collage of clean, athletic and tough looks that emphasize how brilliant a master tailor Van Noten is. I mean, who could possibly make outdoor gear this unabashedly cool?

photos: GQ

- Gerard

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