Who would have thought it could be a love story made in fashion heaven?
On one side, in chillily northern Europe, the wind was blowing in a smart tailored coat, its only accent a wafting feather in the hair. On the other side, the Mediterranean with colours kissed by the southern sun, an orgy of golden yellow top and deep orange floral skirt. Or perhaps bright patterns printed on black silk, worn with a chiffon skirt, rolling out like waves of the sea.
The mash-up of artistic opposites was created by Belgian designer Dries Van Noten who has been secretly working with Christian Lacroix, born and raised in southern France. The unexpected collaboration, and especially the explosion of colour, pattern and decorative fabrics, at first caused a sharp intake of breath in the audience.
Then came cries of enthusiasm and excitement as the two designers brought their separate spirits even closer together. To roars of applause, a tide of onlookers flowed backstage to make sure that this fashion marriage was for real.https://www.instagram.com/p/B21j42on7pv/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=dlfixWho could have expected that 10 years after he left fashion, closed his couture house to spend a decade creating theatrical and ballet costumes, that Lacroix would be on stage being cheered for his fashion artistry? And what a stage! In a deliberate move from recent Van Noten shows in the grand gilded and velvet Hôtel de Ville, he brought the designers together in the bleak backstage of the Opera Bastille.
The duo would not discuss their mix and match show that will surely go down in fashion history. But there was an immediate appreciation of the way that pieces, such as the richly coloured Lacroix velvet or his dashing swags of feather, faced-off beautiful fashion discretion in the Belgian way.
A nest of white top and trousers was finished off with a single curved feather. And there were many other apparent simplicities: a tailored jacket and long skirt that would have been smart in black but looked sensational in a scarlet top with a buttercup yellow skirt. There was a similar effect of fake simplicity when a navy blazer was worn over a patterned red top and trousers.
The platform shoes alone were works of art, from satin Japanese flip flops to brocade ankle boots.
https://www.instagram.com/p/B21jnYqHNp4/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=dlfixIn the stream of consciousness, offered digitally from both designers, Lacroix mused: “I think it was Baudelaire who said that the real artist, the real designer, the real painter was the one who knows when to stop.”
“I never knew when to stop,” he continued. “Now the essence of contemporary fashion comes from this very subtle way of using beauty – strangeness, ugliness – just a little twist, but not shocking. Shocking was very fashionable in the eighties!”
The two designer artists admitted their differences, with Lacroix saying: “My motto when I was a teenager was that too much is never enough”. While Dries took the opposite view: “For me ‘too much’ is not something I arrive at quickly,” he said. “I put more and more layers which afterwards you can dissect, peel away like an onion.”https://www.instagram.com/p/B21jK8THbnk/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=dlfix
There did not seem to be much discarding in this joyous display of artisanship on the runway. But there was food for fashion-thought. Why has clothing become so homogenised? Or as Dries put it: “Everything today is so branded, so focused, so edited that it was nice for me to see whether one designer could work with another on a collection.
“It’s so different to how people look at a house now, to a brand, to an ego. For me, instead of doing a homage (to Lacroix) I had the opportunity to act.”
For a rare and blessed moment, two fashion voices sang in perfect harmony.