While many designers have now returned to live shows, Dries Van Noten doesn’t want to do a show until the pandemic ends (or at least, it’s finally under control). He spent the season thinking about how the restrictive conditions are affecting his team. “A lot of young people don’t go out anymore, they don’t see a lot of people. Touching each other, making love to each other… it’s changed. I think it’s a collection where you really feel what state we’re in, and what we’re longing for. That is the desire we wanted to explain: the frustration,” he said on a video call from Antwerp. Shot by Casper Sejersen, Van Noten’s autumn-winter 2022 film featured a bunch of models getting tactile in a big mansion in Paris. There were close-ups of three real-life couples kissing: two men, two women, and a man and a woman, who all embodied the designer’s genderless objective. “I wanted to make it even more than gender-fluid, so you don’t even think about what’s menswear and what’s womenswear. In this collection, there are as many women’s elements as men’s elements,” he said of the wardrobe, an unrestricted mix of sequins, glitter, embroidery, and transparency with traditional wools and sportswear elements. “There’s a little bit of sex, maybe, in the whole thing. It’s a surreal beauty, a raucous beauty – not a normal beauty. A very strange beauty. Just beauty-beauty is pretty, and I don’t like pretty. I think that’s boring,” Van Noten stressed, explaining the gender-bending quality of the collection had a lot to do with his investigations into truly genderless cutting. The raucous beauty Van Noten wanted to convey was there in the sort of tattered glamour he’s been practicing for a while now: wardrobe constellations that look a little bit like something you’d find in a thrift shop in a clubbing district in the 1970s; a helter-skelter of patterns, textures and partywear that feels somewhat psychedelic. “It’s not like, oh, let’s surprise people, let’s put a feminine thing on a guy. No, we don’t think like that anymore. There’s a freedom, which I’m happy with,” he reflected. “We combine everything in a very spontaneous way.”
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.