Lampoon, Dries Van Noter, Spring Summer 2023, SS23, Paris, Paris Fashion Week

Dries Van Noten at Paris Fashion Week: some Zazou subculture inspirations

From Zazou subculture to the Eighties era, up to cowboys and garage scene grifters, all the men of the  Dries Van Noten SS23 collection

The masculine fashion epics in Dries Van Noten

The conception of Dries Van Noten’s spring summer 2023 collection begins with reflection on the layers that protect from the external world. Clothes, like sturdy shields that screen the actual essence of the person collide with internal forces.

The person’s intimacy and being precious creates friction with the need to protect oneself from reality. Softness and solidity are the two characteristics attributed to the collection that combines classic tailoring with sinuous and sensual shapes.

Different archetypes of personality and men’s fashion dialogue on the Dries Van Noten runway. From cowboys to garage hustlers, from after-dark dandies to sleepy dreamers. Each is analyzed according to their own stereotypes, disrupted by the designer’s own interpretations. The mannerisms and codes of these currents succumb to the arrogance of the Zazou subculture of Paris.  

Dries Van Noten SS23 collection in Paris. Look 59 from the catwalk

Fashion at the time of World War II, the Zazou subculture

During World War II in France, the Zazou subculture was widespread among young people. The hallmarks of these were fine clothes and a passion for swing jazz celebrated at the Pam Pam Cafe in Paris. The German occupation of France influenced the strong conservative mode of government towards the youth.

Therefore, the Zazou movement took its cue from carrying out a form of resistance to this regime. Against the rationing of materials, the clothing of these young people was characterized by loose, long jackets with pockets and belts. In a style that was inspired by the English one, pants were tight and shirt collars high.

An essential accessory was the umbrella, long hair on the other hand a symbol of British coolness. For women, the same look was accompanied by short, flared skirts and large sunglasses, along with strong makeup.

The teen movement that united young people from seventeen to twenty years old included members of different social classes. Common was a bohemian approach to life and ironic criticism of society and the Nazi government. From this subculture Dries Van Noten takes his inspiration to create his man in spring summer 2023.

Intimacy in the clash with solidity

The exploration of different moments in fashion style continues with a focus on the avant-garde fashion of the Eighties. In particular, Van Noten begins with the Buffalo style to reconnect with today’s genderless trend. This movement in fact experimented with mixing male and female codes without particular rules.

The clash of colors and patterns, the overlapping of fabrics and flowing cloaks, and uniformed suits are all related to this fashion current. The focus on lingerie also returns connecting to that designer’s need to express a sense of intimacy.

Muted hues and basic pieces meet silk vests with shoulder pads and pants with classic pleated lines. On the styling, silk shirts are juxtaposed with unstructured, striped pajama pants. This soft and intimate representation clashes with the dynamism of the GlamGarage movement that draws inspiration from motocross and the roaring 2000s. Disruptive are the biker-inspired cut-out pants and cycling shorts.

The redefinition of brand motifs

The reflection on fashion history implemented by Van Noten is also expressed in the redefinition of his own brand. In addition to the conception of the collection, the fine details that make a brand such are questioned and reworked.

Such is the case with the lettering breakdown ‘DVN’ that is impressed on the sleeves in a new and playful form. The technicality of the materials and garments complements the precious redefinition of the same in a celebration of the pieces.

Although the messages within the garments are not evident, the lettering represents a fundamental and powerful element within the collection. The discretion of the wording is subliminally intertwined with the story, the label explains, and the letters are fragmented within the fabrics.

The desired effect is to create a disruption of branding. «In a world of digital white noise, the Lorem Ipsum text – broken Latin wording used by graphic designers as a placeholder – is employed across trousers and patches of fabric. An archaic language left open to interpretation, given purpose», can be read in the statement. 

Dries Van Noten SS23 fashion show. Look 36

The designer about «life-affirming moments»

In the first live men’s fashion show from January 2020, trends from different cultural eras come together to form strict lines of clothes. These play on two aspects, on the one hand there are more classic and precisely structured garments and on the other hand fluid shapes of dropout.

Added to this dualism is the couture attitude to apparel with expressions incorporated within the diverse looks. From the voluminous plume on a rolled shoulder to cape sleeves and the dramatic parka silhouette. Also, a major theme of the collection is patchwork inserted in various forms and sewn to the main pieces even in a coarse manner. All of this contributes to providing a sensory experience back to the viewers.

Rediscovering the pleasure of what is tactile, perceiving the brightness of the sequins in contact with light, and noticing the movement of the wide and airy dresses. The ensemble helps, according to the designer, to notice and celebrate these «life-affirming moments».

Dries Van Noten 

Belgian designer Dries Van Noten created the brand  in 1985. From the family tailoring tradition to the catwalks of London and then Paris, Van Noten earned the title of ‘one of the most cerebral designers’ accorded him by the New York Times.

Chiara Narciso

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.