If you find yourself in Antwerp in the coming months, or need a reason to go there, a visit to the “Olivier Theyskens: She Walks in Beauty” exhibit at the ModeMuseum (MoMu) will take you back to the time when fashion with capital “F” was still important, when that fickle enterprise still had sweep and grandeur, before the paralyzing effect of irony and false self-deprecation that accounts for much of fashion’s blandness today had set in. It was a time when couture was made thoroughly modern by the likes of Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Martin Margiela, those designers who still bothered to learn the fashion playbook before tearing it to shreds, sometimes literally.
By the time the Belgian designer Martin Margiela was appointed as head designer of the storied maison Hermes in 1996, he was widely seen as being at the forefront of the fashion’s avant-garde.
Two weeks ago I got to see the Dries Van Noten: Inspirations exhibit at MoMu, Antwerp’s fashion museum. As the title suggests, the exhibit provides a glimpse into Van Noten’s world, and the influences that feed the wellspring of his creativity.
I have already seen the initial version of the exhibit at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. It was received with typical fanfare that the fashion press is all too ready to dispense. But while I liked it overall, I was so exhausted by the two floors of continuous explosion of color and ornament that I was happy to get some fresh Parisian air when I finally got out.