This Week's Wow: What Is the Meaning Behind Barneys's Hypnotic (& Creepy) Window Display?

This Week's Wow: Dries Van Noten
Photo: Courtesy Photo

In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.

The Moment: They are not quite on the scale of the phenomenal "Dries Van Noten Inspirations" exhibition that opened at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris this month, but the latest windows of Barneys New York on Madison Avenue gave New Yorkers at least a sense of the Belgian designer's creative process. While the Paris exhibition is most impressive for visually demonstrating how a disparate range of ideas, eras, artworks, images, and films can take shape in the design of a single garment, the Barneys windows are more abstract. Each display shows two Van Noten outfits from recent years (Barneys has been carrying his collections for nearly 30 years), next to short films by the artist Andrew Zuckerman (pictured on the right next to Van Noten, below) that show butterflies, birds, and flowers in motion. It’s hypnotizing, if not a little creepy, to see, from the sidewalk, Van Noten's exotically printed sportswear flanking a video of an amber-eyed owl in flight.

This Week's Wow: Dries Van Noten2
Courtesy Photo

Barneys hosted a series of events this week to celebrate the designer and the success of the Paris exhibition, which has helped expand an appreciation of Van Noten beyond his well-known interests in India, flowers, and color. His ideas, it turns out, are equally influenced by punk rock, movies and music, art history from the Renaissance through the present and more. When the museum first approached him, Van Noten says, the last thing he wanted was a retrospective.

"I wanted it to be about inspiration, but to really show the way I am thinking, how I work and how I make associations," he says. "That’s how the whole thing started."

Why It’s a Wow: Van Noten and Pamela Golbin, the curator, plan to bring the show to Antwerp in the fall, and possibly later to the United States, but the pieces and subjects included will likely change at each venue. (Curatorial standards require some vintage fashions to rest for several years each time after they are displayed.)

Barneys also introduced a limited edition version of a book of his designs related to the exhibition, this one including a second volume of bonus images from his archives and a fancy black cloth cover. (The original version is $90; the special edition costs $275.) If you can’t get to the show, it’s a wonderful place to start to gain a better understanding of one of fashion’s most cerebral designers.

Learn More: Visit the online home of the "Dries Van Noten Inspirations" exhibition and plan your Paris vacation accordingly. The designer also hosts a short video about the show and his work here.

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