One of the first things you see upon arriving at the Dries van Noten menswear show in Paris is a long buffet table covered in glasses of complimentary wine.
And this is guaranteed to improve the mood of even the tiredest showgoers. I'm not saying you need to be tipsy to enjoy fashion shows — many can make you feel like you're drunk/tripping sans alcohol or hallucinogens. But I am saying a little swig can help on occasion, especially if said occasion comes after getting quite lost on the Parisian Metro and then having to power walk to an obtuse venue (a process which leaves you with a not-at-all-chic sweaty browline). At this very conscientious Dries show, there was also a team of model-worthy waiters — wearing those zip-up navy overalls you most associate with mechanics — tasked with bringing small plastic cups filled with vin blanc or rouge to the audience, even those sat back in the third row. (That's me, knocking back three.)
Taking place inside a cavernous, post-industrial warehouse space within the Halle Freyssinet, the show ran a little late — this is Europe, after all — but that's fine, because it allowed for a more leisurely wine-tasting experience. It also allowed time for those breezy, nonsensical networking opportunities fashion people yearn for. Here's a snippet overheard from some people standing behind me:
Person No. 1, who is wearing a mohair frock coat despite the Parisian heat: "I just wanted to say hi, because I'm a good friend of Marcello."
Person No. 2, who has neck tattoos: "Oh, hi."
(conversation continues aimlessly for a few minutes or so, full of after-party-themed humblebragging.)
Person No. 1: "So do you know Marcello?
Person No. 2: "No, not really."
I wanted to hear more, because, gosh, things were just getting awkward, but then the show started and an appropriately reverential hush fell throughout the warehouse.
Jazz musician Cindy Blackman walked (and she has a good runway strut) to a drum kit positioned in the middle of the runway. It was quite the entrance.
To Blackman's beat, the show featured silky loose separates with crisp, digital floral prints.
They looked like illustrations from only the finest old botany textbooks.
Muted Oriental prints popped up frequently, paired with plainer pieces for a sense of slouchy, understated refinement.
Although sometimes the prints played off each other just as well.
Short shorts are in next spring, says Dries.
Definitely in — even if this model is cheating a little bit and yanking the hems up a bit with his hands in the pockets like that.
Skinny sweatpant-esque pants with a drawstring waist are also now fair game.
And, of course, there were more strange mandals.
After the models finished their long runway walk up and back down along the audience's tiered benches, they walked over to a long, shiny screen made of Mylar (or something similar) and posed there like statues.
This was fun — the line grew as the show continued.
Grew and grew and grew.
Although one poor model missed his mark and stood too far from the guy next to him.
And even when all the models had walked, Blackman was still banging away on her drum kit. The show wasn't over.
A few of the label's PR folk began motioning showgoers over toward the models, rather than just shooing them out of the venue as is custom at most shows. Everyone in attendance was allowed to get up close and reasonably personal with the models.