Paris Fashion Week: Dries Van Noten Gives the Boiler Suit a Couture Makeover

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Dries Van Noten Spring 2019

The workwear basic of Rosie the Riveter fame, worn by mechanics, the Ghostbusters and Margot Robbie, was at the center of the Belgian designer's spectacular spring 2019 collection.

If you’re judging what’s stylish by what editors and stylists are wearing in the front rows of fashion shows, one of the biggest trends is the workwear basic of Rosie the Riveter fame, worn by mechanics and the Ghostbusters: the boilersuit. A journo at the Victoria Beckham show got hers at Notting Hill vintage store Rellik, while others have been donning Dickies versions, and Margot Robbie paired a khaki all-in-one with high-heeled sandals.

This observation could be where Dries Van Noten got some of the inspiration for his brilliant spring 2019 collection, presented Wednesday not in the gilded salons of the Hotel de Ville, where he had been showing for several seasons, but on a bare-bones, stark white set in the Palais de Tokyo.

In June, after more than 30 years as an independent voice in fashion, the Belgian designer sold a majority stake in his business to Spanish conglomerate Puig with an eye toward growth. The message in this show set seemed to be about starting from scratch, building a foundation for the next 30 years on the values that the brand and its customers hold dear.

The clothes were not minimalist, not by any means, but they keyed into the kind of utility and graphic sensibility that has made workwear, athletic and outdoors brands so appealing. It’s also the kind of utility that has made Dries Van Noten clothes the workhorses of so many women’s wardrobes.

The Belgian designer gave sporty staples the fashion treatment, starting with the boiler suit, which came in navy blue worn with the top peeled down, with a tassel-trim peach-colored muscle shirt and a pair of graphic black-and-white striped high heels, or in bottle green with the sleeves tied around the waist, with a sparkly shell underneath.

Airy windbreakers in naïve floral prints, cargo pants and jackets with subtle embellishment, and nylon sack dresses and jumpsuits cinched and embellished with climbing cord trim had a Pacific Northwest techie appeal.

For evening, classic couture shapes entered the mix in the form of off-shoulder tops, checkerboard and candy-stripe ball skirts, and draped-and-knotted bustiers worn over humble T-shirts.

The down-to-earth (Silicon Valley chic?) vibe carried over to footwear (covetable athletic sandals) and embellishments, from the primary-color feathers like a child might use in a craft project dotting models’ hair, to a shimmering tassel scarf loop worn over one shoulder. The only jewelry you need.

With the strength of the ideas in this collection and the laser-sharp vision, it’s clear that Van Noten has no intention of retreating, but rather is ready to roll up his sleeves like Rosie and get to work. He can do it!