Dries Van Noten's swan song fashion show in Paris a dazzling affair


By AGENCY

Models present creations by designer Dries Van Noten as part of his menswear ready-to-wear Spring/Summer 2025 collection show in Paris. Photo: Reuters

The curtain fell and the disco ball was raised celebrating 38 years and 150 collections of Dries Van Noten, who staged his final fashion show Saturday (June 22) at Paris Fashion Week.

The Belgian fashion maestro, a member of the influential "Antwerp Six” known for his innovative and unexpected elegance, announced his retirement in March of this year.

His departure marks the end of an era. To the sound of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love, Van Noten took his final curtain call at a warehouse in northern Paris in front of an 8m-high disco ball, at the helm of a bedazzling silver runway that had just acted as the stage of his swan song – his 150th show.

Van Noten is one of the famed "Antwerp Six" designers, including Ann Demeulemeester, who all trained at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the early 1980s, and had an important impact on global fashion.

His career, which has spanned five decades since his first menswear line in 1986, has been marked by a fusion of familiar and unfamiliar elements, creating a sense of surprise and poetry in his collections.

He is revered across the fashion industry for his unique aesthetic.

Read more: 'Just too much': Designer Dries Van Noten on why he is retiring from fashion

It’s no wonder the great and the good of fashion, including Diane Von Furstenberg, Thom Browne and Pierpaolo Piccioli, attended the event to celebrate his career.

The Saturday night collection gleamed. It was a varied display playing loosely on the theme of wrapping up or exposing.

Known for his innovative use of fabrics and textures, Van Noten showcased plenty of disco-ready sheen and shimmer.

It was all about the fabrics. He employed semi-sheer crinkled polyamide resembling glass and "one-sided foils that shift, liquid-like, between silver and gold”.

This inventive fabric manipulation resulted in a show that balanced fun and sombre styles – as wisps of the fragile silver foil runway floated up in the air, almost weightlessly.

Van Noten also incorporated a traditional Japanese marbling technique called suminagashi, dating back 1,000 years. This method involves floating ink on water and then transferring it to material, creating unique, organic patterns.

Here, foliage and flower prints evoked fireworks bursting against the night sky.

Throughout his career, Van Noten has been celebrated for riffing on historical and subcultural references.

This final show was no exception, seamlessly integrating disco influences with his unique take on modern gender-fluid masculinity. A sheer, almost-seedy pink trench caught the slight silhouette of the male model’s bare arm in a subtle peek-a-boo trick.

Read more: Who’s in and who’s out: The latest movements among the big fashion houses

Van Noten’s mastery of unexpected colour combinations was also on display, including saturated mixes like a combination of pink, with green and deep burgundy.

His ability to juxtapose formal and casual wear – like pairing elongated double-breasted suits with playful, shimmering pieces-highlighted his signature style.

As the 66-year-old takes his final bow, the fashion world reflects on the legacy of a designer who continually pushed boundaries, redefined elegance, and brought a distinctive Belgian touch to the global stage.

Moments of poetry abounded, as usual. A stiff sleeveless pearl vest and another resembling armour, almost sculptural in its presence, shimmered like iridescent fish. – AP

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