I loved fashion in the way many young girls “love fashion.” Which is to say, I enjoyed going shopping, buying new clothes, looking at the pictures in Vogue and then tearing pages out for my wall without considering designer credits or who styled what.
At the time, very few actual designers as opposed to brand names existed in my personal Rolodex of information. I knew fashion’s equivalent of the Big Ten — mainstream labels that everyone knew and “liked” despite full knowledge of the houses’ actual aesthetic — but remained unaware of the whole world that existed just below its pop-fashion counterpart.
It wasn’t until I discovered Dries Van Noten that I really started to understand what beautiful clothes meant — truly, heartbreakingly beautiful fashion as opposed to trendy styles.
Now, when I say I “discovered” Dries Van Noten, it wasn’t as if I was some early pioneer of the industry’s up-and-comers, a secret scout to Anna Wintour responsible for discovering emerging new talent. Mr. Van Noten wasn’t new either. He was a veteran at the time of my “discovery,” a local native on the shores of an America that I had more or less dubbed India. Little did I know he’d soon become my gateway into the sphere of designers who essentially daylight as artists.
With Style.com as my explorer’s ship and an intern supervisor as my captain (because in all fairness this was a research project and I was supposed to be looking at recent trends) I clicked the three-tiered last name as if it were my alarm clock’s snooze button but what I found opened my eyes: Van Noten’s Fall 2010 collection in all its heavy silked, quasi-equestrian glory.
Those riding jackets! Pinched at the waist to reveal a women’s shape they simultaneously evoked military menswear of a Belgian chevalier. Watercolor florals marked silk skirts like ink stains, and where such bottoms would more commonly find themselves in a ballroom this man named Dries had paired them with sweatshirts. There were swaths of leopard fur and perfect-fit trousers, Midas-touched blazers and coats that for the first time taught me outerwear could, in fact, be a main focus.
I was in love. Madly, deeply in love. This was fashion.
Now what was your moment?
— Amelia Diamond