Today's Dries Van Noten show was a surprise. Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dali, Schiaparelli, John Lydon, all together in one big mash-up. Sound bizarre? It was. There's always a richness to Van Noten's shows - a focus on multiple layers, intricate embellishment, heady prints and lavish fabrics. He toys with the OTT. And what's more OTT, more strangely indulgent and opulent in modern life than celebrity? Everyone wants to be an icon these days - and fashion, as an industry, is especially guilty of building those wannabes up and worshiping those with fame, regardless of whether it’s through talent or birth. Just look at the furore outside the shows around the street style mafia, and inside around those on the front row. What sweet irony that as Zayn Malik and Kanye litter the FROWs of Paris, sparking an Instagram frenzy wherever they go, Van Noten turns a blind eye and champions historic, albeit timeless icons, those with an illusive magic that keeps them relevant generation in, generation out.
Star quality - that strange magic some have. What do Dali, Lydon and Monroe have in common? Very little but also everything. They can be reduced down to just pictures or single words and still be recognisable - Van Noten had played with this, including tartan (Lydon), red lips (Monroe), lobsters (Dali). The most obvious motifs you could think of for all those characters. This wasn’t about digging deep, but presenting the surface of celebrity - the veneer, the legacy. You could read it as a comment on ubiquity - those black and white pictures of Marilyn that covered suits and shirts are so seen, so known, so mass on posters, T-shirts and other souvenir tat already that they're almost valueless, despite how precious the pictured icon is. Could they be elevated in the context of high fashion when removed from the teen bedroom walls and cheap tourist stores. Not really. Similarly those red lips are too universal, to common, to feel new. That’s the dark side of celebrity - the strange mix of value and valuelessness that fame brings. All complex ideas for a collection that wasn’t really complex at all. Shapes and silhouettes were business as usual - great loose shorts, easy knits, some fun draped dressing gown coats, nice tailoring. Just as everyone relates to Marilyn in some way or another, every man could relate to the garments on show. This show’s greatest legacy will be its sell-through.