“They are women who stand for what we want to say.”
Dries Van Noten

There they were, striding en masse at the end of the show without a hint of pretense or affectation — a throng of women whose conviction and style precedes them as legendary and fundamentally ageless beauties. Dries Van Noten’s 100th runway show, cast with the same models he’s featured since the beginning, was less a retrospective and more a confirmation of the values the Belgian designer has held close since his first shows in ‘92 and ‘93: dressing strong women in clothes whose individualistic point of view speaks for itself.

Van Noten has always been a designer we look back to when our eyes grow fatigued with the fickleness of the fashion cycle today. His signature prints, coupled with the consistently high quality of tailoring, exist outside of trend while remaining incontrovertibly modern and unmistakably Dries. They are pieces whose flavor of classic overrides simplistic definition — pieces to wear across generations of intelligent, eclectic, and self-actualized women.

Women, perhaps, like Nadja Auermann, outfitted in a generously cut navy woolen overcoat and crisp white shirt, speaking to a convention of modern uniform dressing; or like Mica Arganaraz, swathed in opulent colorblocked velvet and fuchsia faux fur. Iconic models of the ‘90s and ‘00s like Amber Valletta, Liya Kebede, Alek Wek, and Erin O’Connor were joined by fresher (although no less major) faces like Hanne Gaby Odiele and Celine Delaugere, firmly establishing the credo that great style is less a matter of age and more a matter of self-knowledge. They were styled the way women actually dress: luxuriously, but with an offhandedness that transitions seamlessly from setting to setting by the sheer effortlessness of it all — not dressing for an occasion, but rather simply dressing for life.

Consider, for example, the genius of an iridescent green sash knotted, admiral-style, over a white shirt and jeans, with immaculate velvet blazer on top. Worn by Kirsten Owen, full of intention and natural gravitas, it is easy to imagine that perhaps on a busy day, she tossed the sash into her bag on her way to the office along with wallet and keys, opting for a creative styling switch over stopping home to ready before an event. Or maybe she wore it like that all day; maybe she’s just that kind of woman.

At Van Noten, Fall-Winter 2017 struck a typically fine balance of clothes that might already exist within his customer base’s wardrobe, rendered impeccably and paired back to the kinds of statement pieces that have graced the designer’s runways for decades. It’s a kind of diversity that opens up one’s options for how to participate in the designer’s overarching vision. It’s not about this season, this must-have item, this moment in time. It’s about you — who you are, and further, what you need from your clothes.

  • Words: Sharon Weissburg
  • Photography: Jeff Henrikson