Dark Inspirations

The fashion exhibitions at Musée des Arts Decoratifs are always presented in a special designated space. The atmosphere is almost like going to the theatre: it’s pitch black except for the vitrines, which are dimly lit. It doesn’t always work, and for some shows it’s been difficult to see the details of the clothes. For the “Dries Van Noten: Inspirations” show, however, it worked to its advantage, creating an air of mystery and romance. The thing we liked best about the show was that, instead of just a retrospective, it’s built around the designer’s sources of inspiration, which covered everything from pop art and music to brilliant painters to even other fashion designers. It was like getting to know his creative process from the inside.

The first vitrine featured a selection of other designers clothing from the 1980s including Claude Montana, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Vivienne Westwood and posters from 1980s music icons Grace Jones and Klaus Nomi. Along side the first vitrine is a clever walkway with names of artists, musicians, and celebrities emblazoned on the wall and ceiling in bold white capital letters against a black background.

Eclectic themes in the other vitrines include Frances Bacon, The Duke of Windsor, and Cecil Beaton and more abstract themes such as enchanted gardens, feathers and camouflage

The exhibition is dense with over 400 objects so you must take your time to absorb every detail. Upstairs Japanese artist Azuma Makoto has created a floral wonderland with large-scale flowers and plants on a black background to show off Van Noten’s sumptuous floral prints heavily used in his collections.

You can also see the brilliant and prolific range of Van Noten has created over a 28-year span. I most love his original prints and the way he freely mixes completely different prints in one garment.

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