A study of colour and print
Rubbing shoulders with Margiela, Dries Van Noten's tenure as perhaps the most critically acclaimed of the iconic Antwerp Six continues this season with an eclectic meditation on the peaks and troughs of corporate culture.
Famed for their fearless descent on London in 1986, the Antwerp Six drew a collective line in the sand. Heralding a new dawn in fashion, six emerging Belgian artists recalibrated the industry's relationship with the avant-garde by demonstrating its influence on the global style zeitgeist season after season.
Now, more than 30 years on, Van Noten's slurry of exotic prints and ingenious colour combinations may feel less experimental, but such is the fate of a pioneer. Great design inspires and informs, and Dries' influence has altered the very code of global menswear with such gravitas that what was once unthinkable has become essential.
Opting to present his SS18 vision on the 8th floor of a Parisian office block, Van Noten reimagined once more a slew of classic menswear silhouettes.
Playing with an expertly balanced palette of tropical pastels and dense earthy tones that would have felt at home in a Wes Anderson masterpiece, the collection explored staples of the 1950s corporate uniform updated with an off-kilter shower of military details.
Building to a crescendo, the collection moved from the office to the beach with an opulent excursion into Hawaiian-inspired prints and embroidery.
Upon receiving the show invitation, the attendees would be forgiven for anticipating something far more frowzy than what was revealed. Featuring a vintage IBM data processor, photographed within an almost mind-numbingly banal corporate archive, the invite exuded a stuffiness and rigidity which rivalled Van Noten's well-established style and creativity.
But nothing is incidental where Dries Van Noten is concerned. Unbeknown to many, the 8th-floor setting was once the editorial offices of the progressive left-wing magazine 'Libération' until they closed in 1977. Van Noten's message was clear this season: this is not the uniform of a corporate-drone - this is his liberation.