#SuzyPFW: Dries Van Noten’s Escape to Happiness; Aalto’s Clear Vision

Dries Van Noten

As the colours – blush pink, lilac, orange, yellow, green, and a base of black – faded away and after Dries Van Noten had received tumultuous applause, backstage the designer tried to explain the flow of his show.

It started with shades of brown and pinky beige, before a patterned scarf here or a flower print there brought in a sun-drenched vision of a magical afternoon.

“I wanted to make an optimistic collection,” the designer said as the models walked by, their eyes traced with twinkling crystal and their outfits so rich in texture, fabric, and decoration when seen up close.

“We always say that fashion has to be a reflection of what’s happening in the world, and this time I said, ‘No – let’s escape’,” he continued. “So the starting point is a piece of work by Picasso, which takes scraps of old wallpaper and puts things together. I work a little bit in the same way, like Twenties, Forties, Sixties, Palm Beach, happy, cocktails at 5 o’clock!”

Dries said that his motive was to present a clean collection, “not for it to look like a bunch of old clothes – it really has to be contemporary, for now.”

On stage this read as an ultra-refined version of what the Belgian designer is usually known for, with hardly a hint of the ethnic influences at the start of his career. Accompanied by an a capella version of the Ronettes “Be My Baby”, the models came out, gracefully but simply dressed, until checks morphed into flowers or tiny crystals winked from a mannish checked suit.

The effect was elegant, grown up, and the decorative unattached pieces looked noble, never fussy. Perhaps it was the designer’s love of gardening that made the patterns seem drenched in natural light. Van Gogh sunflowers appeared to sprout across a tailored jacket or even a long, lean coat.

At a time when digital prints are everywhere, Dries came through as an artist with colour and pattern, which has been such a defining part of his career. But more than that, he has created a universe to which he belongs and the wide world of fashion wants to join.


Aalto, the label founded by Finland’s Tuomas Merikoski, brought freshness and colour to Paris.

A runner-up for the 2016 LVMH Prize, he has two fashion strengths: the ability to cut and drape, so that a basic blouse becomes a whirl of folds, and then there is his use of colour – vivid pink, yellow, and orange, perhaps all together in a whimsical way.

In a season where the house of Martin Margiela already came up with a travel theme, Merikoski was right on-trend with recycled travel bags – in yellow, of course. But the bags had a purpose. They were designed for online shopping by the environmentally-friendly packaging company RePack, and can be re-used for returns and repeat orders – a thoughtful gesture from Aalto.