Fashion lovers: a Dries Van Noten exhibit unlike any other

Unlike any fashion exhibit you are likely to see in Paris, and unlike any I have seen anywhere else, I was blown away by the Dries Van Noten Inspirations exhibit.  With more than 400 items on display, the exhibit walked you through that private genius of his, taking you through the inspiration behind each piece and in a very personal way that made me feel like I could have been having a conversation with him about his life, his work and how it all comes together in his designs.

Dries Van Noten

Always a fan of the Belgian designer, one of the original Antwerp Six, I was thrilled to find out that there would be an exhibit dedicated to Van Noten just as I was recently arriving in Paris. Most of the fashion exhibits I have been to showcase a designer’s work, from their earliest pieces to their most recent, with descriptions of inspiration in front of each mannequin. This exhibit was much more than that. I saw myself taking inspiration from art, technology…life around me and expressing that feel in my own fashion choices…certainly not with the creativity and flair of Van Noten, but with the spirit nonetheless!  I thought it only fitting that for “fashion’s most cerebral designers” the exhibit would be just as elaborate and complex as his designs.

I was lucky enough to walk through the exhibit with college students who, like me, just couldn’t get enough of the exhibit; we all could have spent hours in there! I walked from themed room to themed room and was completely mesmerized. From inspirational artwork hanging on the walls to TVs featuring fashion shows, and costumes and dress from another time, the exhibit allowed me to relate to the designer and understand where each collection came from. I loved seeing the story behind each inspiration and the transformation from idea to final garment. It was fascinating  to see how he expressed the beauty of a traditional African woman’s workday dress in his final rendition resembling more wearable art without losing the original expression of that culture…just one of the many examples of his creative genius and talent. Hats off to Van Noten and the curators for creating a memorable exhibit that makes the designer’s creative process tangible and relatable to people from all walks of life.

The exhibit is hosted at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and runs until 31st August 2014.

Chloe Johnston is the CEO at CJ Shopping Tours.

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