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A Fashion Saga: Wouters and Frieling Join Dries van Noten’s List of Collaborators

29 JUN 2012
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Earlier this week I posted an article on Dries van Noten’s collaboration with photographer James Reeve. Today I want to extend that piece by taking a look at another outstanding collaborative project van Noten did with the typographer Job Wouters (also known as Letman) and visual artist Gijs Frieling.

Gijs Frieling is celebrated for his big and small scale painted murals and installations. He works with several highly-trained and skilled assistants, who are commissioned to help him complete his projects. Regardless of how big or small a mural or installment is, Frieling insists that every stroke of paint is done by hand, with no initial sketches or layouts done on the surface beforehand. In other words, Frieling works in free hand, allowing for a very real and very raw finish, all of which are remarkably close to perfection (who needs a pre-sketch when you have a steady hand?)

Job Wouters is a typographer with a great love for letters. What does a love for letters entail? Well, it entails designs that are free-flowing and colourful, illustrations that lure you into fascination, and graffiti that makes any nay-sayer think of street script more as an art than a nuisance. From campaign and promotional posters to designs for books and album sleeves, Wouters’ designs are welcome in almost every corner of the art world.

Imagine then, with a duo like Frieling and Wouters by his side, what Dries van Noten managed to assemble for his Autumn Winter 2012 collection. Held in the Grand Palais in Paris, France, van Noten’s runway show offered onlookers (and the fashion world at large) a presentation of his new collection that fused the beauty of several different art forms in one location, and during one fluid span of time.

Instead of a traditional runway show, Dries van Noten presented his new collection in a space where Frieling, Wouters and a number of participating artists were simultaneously fully immersed in painting murals onto the walls. As models walked down the makeshift runway, the audience sat on their left and the painters were hard at work on their right. To imagine such a display of artistry, where two crafts are united, is both incredible and inspiring.

As far as the clothes go, van Noten’s collection reflected the colourful and liberal designs of both Frieling and Wouters.  “Mens collections the last years are very serious and I wanted to bring a kind of fun, some craziness in the collection,” says van Noten. ” I think in menswear everything is about balance. So, you can do crazy prints but then you have to find the right styles to do it.”

 

And right there are. Fashion lovers and artists alike expressed immense appreciation for van Noten’s designs, accepting them not only as daring and eccentric, but also universal. “People will wear these clothes in a restaurant and in the street,” says Gijs Frieling. “It’s a very public art.”

 

Van Noten is not the first fashion designer to reach out to different sorts of artists for the sake of leading the fashion world in a new, fresh direction. For example, Ann Demeulemeester has collaborated with several different artists, including singer songwriter Patti Smith, as well as artists Jim Dine and Rodney Graham.

Visit Cahier d’Exercices for a closer look at various fashion designers, including Céline and Tom Binns.