Dries Van Noten's SS18 menswear collection was shown in a drab office tower in the Marais that once housed the newsroom of Libération, a leftwing daily founded in the ’70s by none other than the co-parent of existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre.
The collection itself heavily references the working man and his workaday wardrobe, from the middle manager to the mailroom worker. Together with the setting, the symbolism was clear: it was a veneration of the working people everywhere that read papers like Libération, soaked in black coffee and grinding 9 to 5 just to make ends meet. And with the continued resurgence of right-wing politics all around Europe, that makes this one of the Belgian designer's more overtly-political menswear collections ever.
Dries, of course, softened and elevated the workaday lines and rendered them in sumptuous fabrics, all in a palette of cocoa, mauve, subdued mustard, and grey. The result feels highly contemporary, a manifesto for persevering in the face of postmodern work, and almost every piece manages to be both wearable and subtly symbolic.
We welcome Dries Van Noten to needsupply.com — exclusively in North America — for the first time with this SS18 collection. The label —and the designer — have always been strong points of reference and perennial favorites in the Need Supply Co. office. There's something transcendent about a piece of Dries, and unlike other designers who have become household names thanks to their unerring cool, nearly everything he does, from accessories to investment pieces, is wearable and enduring.
He's a member of the Antwerp Six, the constellation of designer educated in a small town in an unlikely country that have arguably done more than any other group to push fashion forward in the past two decades. For anyone looking for a little inspiration this week, we'd highly recommend last year's Reiner Holzemer documentary on the designer's life and creative process: Dries comes across as modest, thoughtful, pragmatic, and down-to-earth, all qualities fashion could always use a bit more of.