Início Tech A pitch-perfect swan song with a metallic message.

A pitch-perfect swan song with a metallic message.

Dries Van Noten retired from the runway with a pitch-perfect farewell event on Saturday night in Paris: An extended cocktail dînatoire with the atmosphere of a family wedding; a spellbinding, slow-build fashion show that was an echo of the designer’s glorious career, forever devoted to dignified dressing tinged with artful, exotic embellishments, and a party that erupted the second he finished his bow and was swallowed up in the darkness of the massive warehouse venue, a mirror ball the size of a house flickering to life and beckoning guests to celebrate, not mourn.

He had vowed that his swan song wouldn’t be a retrospective, and indeed he showed a newsy men’s collection for spring 2025, roughly 38 years after starting out — as he put it in a recent WWD interview — as “a young guy from Belgium, which was really a completely unfashionable country, trying to see if we could do something which would be picked up by stores.”

For devotees of the designer, there were Easter eggs galore: Karen Elson in a navy coat with a demonstrative white lapel winking to Van Noten’s fall 2011 David Bowie-inspired men’s show at the Musée Bourdelle in Paris; harmonious combinations of unusual colors reminiscent of his fall 2009 Francis Bacon-inspired women’s collection, and the runway itself — a trembling stretch of silver leaf that kicked up like fall foliage as the models walked, referencing his fall 2006 women’s show decked out with a gold-leaf strip.

New York Times scribe Guy Trebay and other journalists reached down to pluck a square of the drifting silver as a keepsake of this historic night — and a handy reminder that Van Noten’s last big fashion statement was metallics.

There were filmy trench coats in colored cellophane that brought to mind candy wrappers of yore, and gleaming foil-like and molten textures for roomy pea coats and loose pants. There were some pretty flashy clothes by Van Noten standards, and they demonstrated his yen for exploration.

In his collection notes, the designer cited as an inspiration Belgian artist Edith Dekyndt, whose minimalist paintings glisten with wet-look textures and whose sculptures often employ metallic textiles.

Yet this confident collection also firmly staked Van Noten’s claim on what he described as “a relaxed yet elegant way of dressing.” It was there in the long, narrow trench coats that no one cuts better than him; in the loose, low-slung suits with a dollop of retro swagger; in the handsome blousons dusted with bullion embroideries; in the gorgeous how-did-he-come-up-with-that color combinations, and in his signature embroideries, degradé motifs and floral prints.

Here, large-scale botanical motifs were rendered via suminagashi, described as a “traditional Japanese marbling technique dating back 1,000 years that involves ink patterned atop water, which is transferred to and absorbed by the fabric.” They were spectacular and gentle at the same time, a sleight of hand only Van Noten can pull off.

After standing and cheering for as long as Van Noten lingered on the catwalk, which is not very long, guests poured into the backstage melee to discover an ebullient scene.

“The idea was to make a celebration, I hope it felt like that,” the designer said, smiling broadly, confessing that he felt “a little bit overwhelmed,” but ultimately “very happy” with his decision to retire at age 66, though he will remain as an adviser to the house, controlled by Spanish beauty and fashion group Puig.

The Dries Van Noten women’s spring 2025 collection, to be presented in Paris this fall, will be done by the studio team and it is understood the founder will not play a role in the selection of his successor or successors.

Standing not far from his partner Patrick Vangheluwe, who is creative director at the company and who is also retiring, Van Noten told the scrum they would first spend a week or so at their holiday home in Italy. “And then we start to work on our next plans,” he said, prompting a round of chuckles. “We keep you posted.”

Exceptionally, there was a parting note, with a TBC tone, in Van Noten’s last press release: “This is my 129th show; like the previous ones, it looks ahead. Tonight is many things, but it is not a grand finale. I think about how Marcelo Mastroianni once spoke of a paradoxical ‘nostalgia del futuro,’ beyond the lost paradises imagined by Proust, and how we continue to pursue our dreams knowing that, at some point, we can look back on them with love. I love my job, I love doing fashion shows, and sharing fashion with people. Creating is about leaving something that lives on. My sense of this moment is how it is not only mine, but ours, always.”

For more Paris men’s spring 2025 reviews, click here.

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