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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Dries Van Noten's Homage to Marchesa Casati

The legendary and extravagant Italian patron of parties inspires yet another designer

11 Марта 2016

Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

The hand-painted black eyes stared out from the invitation, as they would later from the models at the Dries Van Noten show. What else would you expect but those brooding, coal black lashes to evoke the narcissistic perfectionist, the addict of grandeur who was the Marchesa Luisa Casati? 

Or as Dries Van Noten said backstage, among the models with pencilled eyes and strict hair drawn back: “Marchesa Casati considered herself a walking piece of art – and that, for me, was a very interesting starting point for the collection.” I have seen so many designers, from John Galliano to Alexander McQueen, find inspiration in the Marchesa and her decadent life in Venice, surrounded by party people and peacocks and obsessed with her appearance. But I’ve not seen Casati inspire a designer in this direction before: instead of lacy black evening gowns and layers of velvet, there were pinstriped masculine suits.

из
Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


They were shown with pulled back hair, silken neckties and a frisson of the elegant lesbian with shapely tailoring. In a softer mood, but still with undefined gender, a model had a printed silk dressing gown wrapped across an undulating body. There were different elements in the show, held in a vast, abandoned Paris train depot.

Extravagant femininity appeared as purple feathers at the neck and in boots with broken pearls wrapped round a sculpted heel. Faux leopard fur brought dash to the runway, as did gilding for outfits that were loosely cut and seemed more familiar as the Belgian designer’s style. “I love the whole story of the Marchese – the snakes on her body – it is all very inspiring, she was on a quest for extravagance,” said Dries, referring to the claim that the Marchese wore snakes as jewels. 

Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

New for the designer were evening dresses like a slither of velvet with mesh across the chest or with a snaking pattern. Greeted with cheers and smothered with admirers, I could not ask Dries what I wanted to know: was there an exploration of the man/woman thing in this collection? I would not have been so crass as to suggest to the designer that because Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara were nominated for an Oscar for the lesbian movie Carol, he was encouraged to think about designing for gay women. Yet there was something different about the cut of this collection and the way that it was worn.  \

The show notes pinged into my smart phone and I read the Dries Van Noten line-up. This is what it said: “Fluid gender, Helmut Newton – decadence as a life style.” Any great fashion designer catches “l’air du temps” and Dries has mingled the occult yearnings of Luisa Casati with the current conversation about gender to capture something new wafting in the air…

Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Dries Van Noten, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

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