“We were in, I think, the fifth lockdown here in Antwerp when we started on this collection. And when I talked with my team to discuss what it would be about, it was really about outbursts: We’ve had it, and now we want to have fun, we want to party, we want to enjoy things, we want to go into the city and we want to see people.” So said Van Noten down the Zoom, laying out his manifesto for a sensually hedonistic season while simultaneously echoing the Peter Fonda-sampled intro to Primal Scream’s Loaded, the soundtrack to DVN’s excellent collection video: “We want to be free to do what we want to do!… And we want to get loaded! And we want to have a good time! And that’s what we’re gonna do!”
Without inquiring as to whether Van Noten and his team got loaded—because what happens in Antwerp stays in Antwerp—they clearly had a blast putting together this lovingly local, energy rush of a collection. That team made a shared folder of smartphone photos taken around the city, from industrially scenic crane landscapes to strobe-lit club shots via moody pool hall milieus, which were integrated as prints on paneled parkas and silky shirts. These images were then accented against a ’70s vintage Antwerp municipal logo (as recognizable to any self-respecting Sinjoren as the I ❤︎ NY meme is to a New Yorker) and etchings taken (with permission) from two of Flanders’s most famous sons, Breughel and Rubens. The collaged images on the garments were shot against a backdrop of more city locales, to 56 of which DVN and his team dragged a white podium to make the lookbook. Of them all, the pink-tabarded school trip in look six proved ultimate evidence that these were not scenes just lazily projected in post.