Home Run: Dries Van Noten's Inspirations at MoMu
All clear! This is not a drill. Belgian fashion designer and Antwerp hero Dries Van Noten premiered his “Inspirations” exhibit at Antwerp fashion museum MoMu yesterday. I had the chance to catch a personal tour with Mr. Van Noten himself, before the show premiered later that evening. Why is this so important you ask? Because it simply is the most exquisite and unique look inside the world of one of fashion's most noted contemporary masters.
A couple of months ago, as you can read here, I was invited to MoMu's “MoMu Now/Nu” exhibit, focusing on contemporary fashion and its Belgian connection. During that visit, I heard that the long-awaited confirmation was in... Dries Van Noten was bringing his hugely successful (extended by months) “Inspirations” show at the Les Arts Décoratifs museum in Paris to his hometown Antwerp. As lovely as MoMu Now/Nu was, the upcoming Dries exhibition was all I could think about. When a little fashion bird then told me the master himself was thinking about customizing the entire show for its Antwerp stop, I knew this would be an absolute home run. And boy it was. If yesterday were a prom, Dries Van Noten would have been crowned Homecoming King. In a good suit that is.
“Inspirations” is by no means a retrospective of Van Noten's work, but rather a walk down his artistic world and a look inside his creative process. A game of connecting the dots. You often hear designers talk about the inspiration behind a collection or a specific design, but aside from the occasional sketch and backstage clip, how often do we, the audience, get to take an in-depth look? As fashion today seems to be recycling its history over and over again in order to move forward, isn't the inspiration behind the work as important as the actual finished product? Dries seems to think so.
“Inspirations” juxtaposes other artworks with pieces from Mr. Van Noten’s collections, pieces by other designers and fashion houses. Van Noten and team selected every work of art, along with every garment in such a precise yet innovative way that nothing feels out of place. Walking into the exhibit's Floral Room, Van Noten commissioned Norwegian artist Sissel Tolaas to create a smell for it, while Makoto Azuma was commissioned to create a mural. Displayed in the space are pieces from Van Noten's S/S 2008 collection and other floral pieces by other designers.
Think Balenciaga from the sixties, an eighties Yves Saint Laurent evening blouse and a dress by Patrick de Barentzen that belonged to Wallis, Duchess of Windsor. Outrageous and brilliant at the same time. Some works of art weren't direct inspirations for Van Noten's collections, but fitted the theme and are personal favorites.
Mr. Van Noten was kind enough to explain a few rooms in the show in between interviews and other press obligations. Unfortunately the exhibit wasn't completely finished at the time of our tour, which in combination with my camera phone didn't do the set-ups justice. So forgive me for the quality of following images as I show you some of my favorite moments from the super-deluxe DVN scrapbook that is “Inspirations”
In today's fashion world, collections are coming out at a fast pace, making it very hard to get something across. Everyone's a designer now, everyone's a stylist, a photographer and a journalist. Collections get photographed through filtered iPhone lenses and before you finished the double tapping motion on your Instagram feed, we're on to next season already. Designers work seasons ahead these days, huge fashion houses bring out as much as 12 different collections a year, capsule or pre-season collection anyone? The significance of a designer's message that particular season seems to have completely vanished. It's all likes, comments, ratings and then we move on.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Dries Van Noten understands the importance of standing still for a little bit in order to create and enjoy a moment. Literally. During Van Noten's S/S 2015 show at Paris Fashion Week, the models laid down on the catwalk for its finale. A quiet, breathtaking moment during the hectic circus that is fashion week. It instantly became the most-buzzed about show that season. Dries Van Noten's perfectly orchestrated calmness and bold collections are his trademark. When Dries goes floral or was inspired by old embroidery, you'll know it, and he'll make you stand still for a moment in order to appreciate it. And that, is the true power of a fashion master.
In short, Dries Van Noten's “Inspirations” is like a carefully crafted scrapbook, a deeper look into the creative process of Belgian's most influential designer and a true hypercultural fashion visionary. The must-visit of the season or your stay in Antwerp City.
Dries Van Noten - InspirationsOpens today, 13/02/2015 and closes 19/07/2015
Features work by a.o. Damien Hirst, Pablo Picasso and Mark Rothko.
MoMu – Antwerp Fashion Museum
Nationalestraat 28, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
+32 3 470 27 70 – Hashtag #MoMuAntwerp
Text & Scrapbook Images by Laurent James – antwerptrill.com
Headline Image © Mathieu Ridelle –momu.be HQ
Pics by Vincent Van Reusel – strutterview.com