Dries Van Noten: From Crombie to Communist
Fri Jan 23, 12:00 PM EST
Godfrey Deeny

Paris – Where else to stage a show in the first menswear fashion season since the financial bloodbath began than in the French Communist Party (PCF) headquarters, as Dries Van Noten succeeded in doing on Thursday night in Paris.

In the midst of the sort of crisis so often predicted by Karl Marx, the PCF had rented out their headquarters to a cutting edge luxury fashion label. Prada staged a party here eight years ago, but that was at the height of the boom.

"I just think it's a wonderful space," replied Dries when pressed for any political significance in the location.

Van Noten is famed for his use of color and prints, however his fall 2009 collection was all dark mono-colors, with just flickers of white, the reverse of a coat lapel, an Edwardian shirt collar. Yet though somberly cut, the apparel had panache. Using stiff new mixes of fabrics he invented himself, Van Noten was able to cut a whole new curvy volume pant and stiff jacket that looked more of the moment than any label in Europe.

His coats seem to wrap protectively around the models. It's a big Continental runway trend, but nobody's coats hung as smartly as those of this Belgium designer. From a brilliant oatmeal trench with standup neck and a spy overlord's burnished blue silk-wool coat, the cut was king.

Adding to the sense of work to be done, there was a faintly android quality about the models as they strode around the remarkable underground concrete concourse of the building, whose design was a gift by master Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

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