Virtually synonymous with vivacious prints with an heirloom quality, Dries Van Noten held himself back for his spring 2024 men’s collection, where solids reigned and only a handful of garments bore muted, shadowy geometric patterns.
“It was quite tough,” he confessed backstage with a laugh. “It’s sometimes more difficult for us because in the past we’ve been quite loud. But it was really fun, and it was also pushing us to do different things.”
Forsaking prints robbed the show of the usual visual oomph, but it brought two things to the fore: Van Noten’s distinctive tailoring, and his formidable talent as a colorist.
The Belgian designer opened his show with an extra-long, narrow trench coat with a squared-off shoulder line, cuing the columnar silhouette that dominated the collection, alongside some slouchier suiting.
Both looked appealing, which proves how democratic and freewheeling designer menswear has become. On the whole though, Van Noten’s looser silhouettes probably won the day: elegantly sagging open-weave sweaters, billowing parkas in featherweight nylons, and pajama-like shirts and pants so densely sequinned they had a shaggy aspect.
Like most designers, Van Noten favored flowing, lightweight and occasionally gossamer fabrics, parading strong-shouldered jackets in shirt-grade fabrics that could be tucked into high-waist pants.
He couldn’t resist a few meaty fabrics, including a loose herringbone suit in a golden shade he paired with a burgundy shirt, one of the many arresting color combinations that paraded through a derelict building, its concrete bones the main decoration at the no-frills venue. Neutral and spice shades dominated, juxtaposed with lilac, apricot, petrol blue, persimmon and lime.
You could brand this show quiet luxury. But isn’t that just a trendy tag for clothes that are wearable, free of extraneous branding and razzmatazz?
“I don’t want to dictate,” Van Noten said backstage, marveling that he’s been designing for men across nearly three generations. “I want to give suggestions, and with this collection I really hope that it gave a lot of elegant suggestions also for a young guy to look cool and just to wear every day.”