Count on Dries Van Noten to make use of prints as a reflection—or in this case, remembrance—of what the world used to be like. The Belgian designer, who's been a fixture at Paris Fashion Week, presented his spring/summer 2022 menswear collection from his base in Antwerp. The collection's accompanying film presentation was set around the city as well as around the Dries Van Noten ateliers.
"Lockdown was hard on all of us and especially when I started to design this collection with my team, as it was very restrictive and frustrating. We all yearned for a time when our lives were more free. We found ourselves almost bursting out and going through photos on our phones, needing to relive memories of moments when life was carefree and sociability possible. And so the idea was born…. Bring these moments to life again though wearing them… Anticipate the future we will all certainly enjoy together again by celebrating such moments already lived now!" Van Noten offers.
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The print master took those personal photos belonging to the Dries Van Noten team and collaged them together. The prints resulting from these collages (some stood on their own) were some of the more personal works that Van Noten has ever created. They were something that hit home. How often have we found ourselves reminiscing the events pre-2020 on our phone camera rolls? Or reposting Instagram Stories from years ago of non-existent social-distancing measures, far-flung travels, and carefree late nights?
Yet at the same time, the images served as reminders of what's awaiting us in the not-so-distant future. The hope that we might once again be able to enjoy life without a collective dark cloud hanging over our heads is one that Van Noten wanted us to hold on to, and perhaps he's on to something.
Look and feel: Just like the prints that adorned many of the ready-to-wear pieces, the Dries Van Noten spring/summer 2022 menswear collection had an overall sense of optimism—an emotion that the fashion industry at large has been trying to project.
Van Noten designed a collection that's set to prep us for when times are good again. Short-sleeved printed coordinates for the height of summer, sheer and cutout ensembles to dance the night away in amongst a crowd of bodies in the club, as well as oversized silhouettes to make room for all that lockdown weight we've been steadily gaining.
But they're also ripe for the now. While portraying an optimistic rhythm, the collection never felt too dressed up—perfect for those of us who feel the need to transition into full pre-pandemic mode at a slower pace.
Favourite looks: A signature Dries Van Noten outing was look 42—a geometric print formed from a 1970 logo for Antwerp as designed by J van den Bouwhuysen, was translated onto a top and trousers, and worn under an oversized technical jacket—that we could see in many different colourways. Then there's look 4's oversized highlighter-hued (set to be a key trend for spring/summer 2022) tailoring that was worn on a female model. That's one celebratory post-COVID suit if we've ever seen one.
There were quite a few lasercut pieces that exuded a more utilitarian vibe that we're drawn to. Among them is look 48's lasercut oversized shirt worn with printed trousers and finished off with the collection's heavily padded sandals. It's one stylishly comfy ensemble that this style director would be willing to step out of the house in, even if it's just to get juice at the nearby convenience store.
Favourite accessories: Hands down, the aforementioned padded sandals. They come in a variety of colours, including a vermillion pair as seen on look 16 that would make for the perfect statement sandal of the season. It was also difficult to not notice the exaggerated proportions of the spring/summer 2022 totes. These were massive carriers crafted in leather or faux brown paper and done in block colours with some featuring screen-printed reproductions of works by Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens. Post-pandemic, we'd have no time to fuss around with the nitty-gritty—just dump everything in one and enjoy the life that we've missed out on.