“We were in, I think, the fifth lockdown here in Antwerp when we started on this collection. And when I talked with my team to discuss what it would be about, it was really about outbursts: We’ve had it, and now we want to have fun, we want to party, we want to enjoy things, we want to go into the city and we want to see people.” So said Dries Van Noten, laying out his manifesto for a sensually hedonistic season while simultaneously echoing the Peter Fonda–sampled intro to Primal Scream’s “Loaded”, the soundtrack to the line-up’s excellent collection video: “We want to be free to do what we want to do!… And we want to get loaded! And we want to have a good time! And that’s what we’re gonna do!” Without inquiring as to whether Van Noten and his team got loaded, they clearly had a blast putting together this lovingly local, energy rush of a collection. That team made a shared folder of smartphone photos taken around the city, from industrially scenic crane landscapes to strobe-lit club shots via moody pool hall milieus, which were integrated as prints on paneled parkas and silky shirts. These images were then accented against a ’70s vintage Antwerp municipal logo and etchings taken (with permission) from two of Flanders’s most famous sons, Breughel and Rubens. The collaged images on the garments were shot against a backdrop of more city locales, to 56 of which Dries and his team dragged a white podium to make the look book. Of them all, the pink-tabarded school trip in look six proved ultimate evidence that these were not scenes just lazily projected in post. Van Noten said his attitude to this collection was: “What is menswear? What is womenswear? Just throw it all together and take what you like.” Conventional dichotomies were rendered attractively void in “womenswear” looks featuring tailored, overlong, and overdyed pants in English mohair over slides, and an awesome “menswear” camo parka and suit in 35 gram silk plongée lined in cotton voile. Geographically specific to Antwerp, but tolerantly nonspecific in terms of the geography of received gender norms, this was a collection that did indeed look great to get loaded in.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.