By now, you’ve likely seen your favorite celebrities, athletes and influencers wearing multicolor waves. This print of the season, which has popped up in numerous social media posts, is courtesy of Belgian designer Dries Van Noten.
Adam Levine wore the waves during this year’s Super Bowl. Diplo donned them for a recent DJing gig in Miami. Hip-hop performer Swae Lee dressed in them from top to toe, sharing his look with his 6.5 million Instagram followers, while Beyoncé, also wearing the waves, did the same for her 127 million Instagram followers.
This undulating pattern debuted in June of last year during Van Noten’s men’s spring/summer 2019 runway show. It’s a collaboration with the estate of Danish interior and furniture designer Verner Panton, who died in 1998.
“I wanted to work with something very optimistic, very colorful, summertime,” said Van Noten, who has long been known for his deft hand with prints, in particular taking florals, pictures of Marilyn Monroe or a dripping splatter and reworking them with abandon. “It’s not just a beautiful thing. It’s the optimism behind it.”
Van Noten was given access to Panton’s archive and used certain motifs — waves in refracted shades of yellow and orange; blue and red; and white, purple and aquamarine. Along with the archival waves, he pulled trippy open-hand graphics and checkerboard geometrics and layered them onto the body in louche tailoring, breezy short-sleeve shirts, elegant lightweight anoraks and trim-collared jackets.
Overall, the prints offer a dreamy, hallucinatory look in the best possible way, and Van Noten’s sampling has paid off with the prints collectively becoming the season’s “It” style.
I wanted to work with something very optimistic, very colorful, summertime.
His designs inspired a springtime installation at the Los Angeles outpost of fashion retailer Opening Ceremony on La Cienega Boulevard that includes a very Instagram-friendly hallway wallpapered with the signature design motif. (The pop-up pops down on April 30.)
“The Verner Panton prints are so happy and cheery,” said Humberto Leon, co-founder of the store and brand and the co-creative director of French brand Kenzo. “The vibrant and psychedelic designs are inspired by work in the ’60s and ’70s but have such a timeless feel.”
Leon said Beyoncé, who lives in Los Angeles, was given a sneak peak at the pop-up at Opening Ceremony and liked the styles so much that she bought a few pieces from the menswear collection for herself. (Cate Blanchett also threw out any qualms about gender and wore a suit from the collection last November.)
“Our clients in the creative field who know Verner Panton’s work have really responded to this collaboration,” said Kevin Carney, owner of Mohawk General Store in Silver Lake, which carries many of the pieces from Van Noten’s collection, including swimsuits. (Van Noten pieces featuring the prints — think sneakers, scarves and backpacks — can also be found online at Mr. Porter and Ssense.)
“It’s selling out faster than any of his previous spring collections that we have stocked in the past,” Carney said.
Bold prints aren’t new fashion, of course, but with logomania reaching a saturation point, prints such as Van Noten’s hit that sweet spot between distinctive and discreet. That Van Noten chose to focus on positivity and joy in a time when the world might feel like it’s spinning off its axis is also its own kind of quiet and colorful revolution.
“We’re always delighted by Dries Van Noten’s unexpected designs and prints,” Leon said. “Every season it is visually something completely new.”
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