Dries Van Noten is no stranger to color, but for his SS18 menswear collection the Belgian designer took the concept of tonal dressing to new heights.
Featuring dozens of nuanced shades, from the traditional sounding tobacco, teal and khaki to the more enigmatic, including hues described in the accompanying show notes as zabaglione, mouse and mayonnaise, the collection forced the audience to rethink how men wear and style color. Models strode the runway in what Van Noten described as “very simple shapes, coats, jackets, shorts, pants, nothing unexpected”, which allowed his unique color pairings, such as an ice-blue jacket with a khaki top and brown trousers and an olive green sweater over blush pink shorts, to take center stage.
Despite insisting that these “true garments” held no theoretical meaning, there was a distinct military feel to the collection, perhaps best exemplified by the boxy shirts in combat-friendly shades; a mood enhanced, intentionally or otherwise, by the choice of venue – the show was held in the former editorial offices of the French newspaper Libération, formed following the protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s.
But no doubt to the delight of die hard Dries fans, this season’s focus on color was not at the expense of the designer’s longstanding love affair with print. Finishing with a flourish of palm fronds and geometric shapes embellished with beading and embroidery, the show closed on a more classic note.