After spending the past twelve months cooped up inside our homes, the idea of moving—stretching out our limbs and bounding across open spaces—is one that’s taken on heightened meaning. It was part of the reason why Dries Van Noten’s Fall 2021 collection, which was released today, was so captivating. In the lookbook and accompanying video, shot in the Antwerp arts center deSingel, models and professional dancers (hailing from contemporary Belgian companies Rosas and Ultima Vez, as well as from the Opéra National de Paris) alike seem completely unencumbered as they twist and turn, contort their physiques, and kick up their legs in the season’s new pieces.
Of course, the clothes, which were designed with a sense of freedom in mind, move with the body. “Dressing the human form of a dancer required another view on dressing,” the show’s notes read. In the 76-look lineup, slits have been cut, crisp shirt dresses are easy and elongated, menswear tailoring is loose-fitting yet structured, and crimson-colored sequins inspired by Pedro Almodóvar (whom Van Noten refers to as “the master of emotion”) envelop the form. Meanwhile, glossy red-lipped visages are blurred; metallic stilettos and sky-high patent platforms are tossed to the side, or out of frame entirely.
What’s more, powdery pink silks and satins, an array of rose motifs, marabou-accented midi skirts… Van Noten manages to imbue even such exuberant numbers with a certain restraint. In other words, they are not saccharine-cheery, nor are they overly optimistic. Instead, they are darkly, deeply romantic in the kind of way that seems most in tune with how we will want to dress when we can, finally, venture out into the world again. That is, acknowledging that we’ve been through something profoundly sobering, but nevertheless striding forward in uncompromising beauty.
Below, watch Dries Van Noten’s Fall 2021 collection in motion.