Iconic designer Dries Van Noten stages his swan song show in Paris, retiring from fashion

PARIS (AP) — The curtain fell and the disco ball was raised celebrating 38 years and 150 collections of Dries Van Noten, who staged his final fashion show Saturday at Paris Fashion Week. The Belgian fashion maestro, a member of the influential “Antwerp Six” known for his innovative and unexpected elegance, announced his retirement in March of this year.

Meanwhile, golden feathers cascaded down models’ concealed faces at Loewe for a show that evoked myths and sartorial whimsy. It set the stage for a more subdued collection this season from Northern Irish designer Jonathan Anderson —but one which continued to blend fantasy with high fashion.

Here are some highlights of Saturday’s spring 2025 menswear shows:

Dries Van Noten’s final show

His departure marks the end of an era. To the sound of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” Dries Van Noten took his final curtain call at a warehouse in northern Paris in front of an 8-meter-high disco ball, at the helm of a bedazzling silver runway that had just acted as the stage of his swan song — his 150th show.

Van Noten is one of the famed ‘Antwerp Six’ designers, including Ann Demeulemeester, who all trained at Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the early ’80s, and had an important impact on global fashion. His career, which has spanned five decades since his first menswear line in 1986, has been marked by a fusion of familiar and unfamiliar elements, creating a sense of surprise and poetry in his collections. He is revered across the fashion industry for his unique aesthetic.

It’s no wonder the great and the good of fashion, including Diane von Fürstenberg, Thom Browne, and Pierpaolo Piccioli, attended the event to celebrate his career.

The Saturday night collection gleamed. It was a varied display playing loosely on the theme of wrapping up or exposing. Known for his innovative use of fabrics and textures, Van Noten showcased plenty of disco-ready sheen and shimmer.

It was all about the fabrics. He employed semi-sheer crinkled polyamide resembling glass and “one-sided foils that shift, liquid-like, between silver and gold.” This inventive fabric manipulation resulted in a spring show that balanced fun and somber styles — as wisps of the fragile silver foil runway floated up in the air, almost weightlessly.

Van Noten also incorporated a traditional Japanese marbling technique called suminagashi, dating back 1,000 years. This method involves floating ink on water and then transferring it to material, creating unique, organic patterns. Here, foliage and flower prints evoked fireworks bursting against the night sky.

Throughout his career, Van Noten has been celebrated for riffing on historical and subcultural references. This final show was no exception, seamlessly integrating disco influences with his unique take on modern gender-fluid masculinity. A sheer, almost-seedy pink trench caught the slight silhouette of the male model’s bare arm in a subtle peek-a-boo trick.

Van Noten’s mastery of unexpected color combinations was also on display, including saturated mixes like a combination of pink, with green and deep burgundy. His ability to juxtapose formal and casual wear — like pairing elongated double-breasted suits with playful, shimmering pieces—highlighted his signature style.

As the 66-year-old takes his final bow, the fashion world reflects on the legacy of a designer who continually pushed boundaries, redefined elegance, and brought a distinctive Belgian touch to the global stage.

Feathers and suits at Loewe

Moments of poetry abounded, as usual. A stiff sleeveless pearl vest and another resembling armor, almost sculptural in its presence, shimmered like iridescent fish. Anderson’s talent for what he calls creating “collaged realness” was once again on display for spring, merging art content with high-end fashion.

Generous draping and ruching on pants and foulards showcased fine fashion design with curves swirling elegantly, all conceived with a light, minimalist touch. This was Anderson at his best, creating exaggerated, sculptural silhouettes that are now a hallmark of his Loewe tenure. The deceptive lightness and fluidity of the cottons, wools and leathers marked his ongoing exploration of materiality.

The tailored suit and pants — a mainstay of an office job — were touchstones, starkly contrasting the moments of whimsy.

Even here, styles were treated with Anderson’s signature off-kilter eye and in loose, generous proportions.

Elongated belts were in double vision, while patent Oxford shoes would have been ready for Wall Street, were it not for the fairytale-like surreally long toe that could have been worn by Rumpelstiltskin. Was Anderson trying to evoke a daydream of a bored city worker? This fusion of the mundane and the fantastical is an Anderson trademark. Spring was another example of his ability to use clothing as a medium to explore broader cultural themes, and to draw the it-crowd including actor Jeff Goldblum and movie director Pedro Almodovar.

Pastels, microbacteria: Kiko Kostadinov

Asian cross-over styles and sumptuous turban-like headwear mixed with the buttons and epaulet detailing of military garb created a distinctively avant-garde atmosphere for fashion-forward designer Kiko Kostadinov’s latest collection. The nuanced incorporation of pastels, often gently color-blocked into the outfits, lent the collection a vibrant yet subtle harmony, reflecting Kostadinov’s knack for blending unlikely elements.

The uncommon pastel hues made this collection sing. Kostadinov often uses vibrant tones to create eye-catching ensembles.

Other styles featured high, round collars that seemed to evoke Star Trek, adding a futuristic twist. Kostadinov has a penchant for integrating elements of science fiction and fantasy into his designs, as seen in past collections inspired by cinematic and bookish themes.

Indeed, one look — a striking industrial-style jacket and pants — sported surreal motifs of alien lifeforms or underwater creatures. This playful yet eerie detailing continued, resembling microscopic bacteria adorning a 70s-style pastel-striped shirt and pants.

White Mountaineering gets urban

Loose, limp silhouettes, utilitarian detailing, and layered looks set the mood from the outset at White Mountaineering’s latest menswear show. Designed by Yosuke Aizawa, a Tokyo-based creator who thrives on outdoor adventures and draws inspiration from the hinterlands of Nagano prefecture, this brand epitomizes the fusion of urban and outdoor wear, balancing technical function with the runway.

The collection began, fittingly, in white. Monochromatic musings gave way to stripes, checks, and camouflage, with geometric knit patterns and even an assorted ’90s tie-dye total look.

Factory overall onesies in beige gave this collection a young, funky vibe, while silky foulards and neat collars added a nip of chic.

Aizawa, who divides his time between Tokyo and the wilderness of Nagano, channels his passion for the outdoors into his shows. His designs reflect his lifestyle, offering garments that are equally at home in the city or the countryside.

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