"In the backyard of the [Royal Academy of Fine Arts] school was this little building, on the verge of collapsing. You would have to very carefully go over the stairs, because if you took one mis-step, you could literally push your feet through them. It was almost dangerous. So I think that the whole thing melted well together. It was the switch from the 80s to 90s, the reaction on excess with minimalism and deconstruction, the first appearance of grunge. So that feeling of romanticism, together with the history, the building and the run down corridors with the statues, it really did make a big impact on how you formed your visual language. I really think there was something quite dark and magical about it, matching perfectly the zeitgeist of the period."

— Willy Vanderperre
Dries van Noten spring / summer 1998
For this collection, we steered away from opulent ethnicity with a simpler collection that was more monochromatic in colourway, focusing on shades of white, blue, black and dark brown. Although many of the shapes were inspired by silhouettes taken from Japanese, Chinese, African and even Belgian dress styles, the overall impression was less obviously exotic than earlier collections. What was interesting, however, was that because we had an African band to provide the music, everyone assumed the collection was based on that continent. I felt that it proved you can look at another group of cultures without screaming your points of reference. If we had chosen another kind of music, the whole interpretation might have been different. Perhaps, ethnicity is in the eye of the beholder, as much as in what I design.

Dries van Noten spring / summer 1998

For this collection, we steered away from opulent ethnicity with a simpler collection that was more monochromatic in colourway, focusing on shades of white, blue, black and dark brown. Although many of the shapes were inspired by silhouettes taken from Japanese, Chinese, African and even Belgian dress styles, the overall impression was less obviously exotic than earlier collections. What was interesting, however, was that because we had an African band to provide the music, everyone assumed the collection was based on that continent. I felt that it proved you can look at another group of cultures without screaming your points of reference. If we had chosen another kind of music, the whole interpretation might have been different. Perhaps, ethnicity is in the eye of the beholder, as much as in what I design.


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