Trees are blossoming earlier than ever as soaring global temperatures send seasons off kilter. Scientific research has shown that even slight climatic shifts can alter the first bloom index (an indicator of blossoming patterns rather than a map of the Chelsea Flower Show), and a rise of just a few degrees can have a huge impact on the arrival of spring. Bad news for bees, who risk sleeping through peak pollen-collecting time, and groundhogs, whose days of weather prediction are numbered – as well as obviously the rest of us. But every cloud has a silver lining, they say – and as any groundhog trying to spot its shadow on an overcast morning in early February will tell you – and it’s fair to say that flowers are more aesthetically pleasing than bare trees.
One man who knows this is Mr Dries Van Noten, the Belgian designer behind the brand of the same name. Over the course of his 40-year career, he’s earned himself a reputation for knowing his way around some very handsome prints. And, like the seasons inching forward, he tends to be ahead of the game. This time last year, Danish interior designer Mr Verner Panton’s turn-of-the-1970s “Wave” pattern had made the leap from the home furnishings of half a century ago to everything from coats to swimwear thanks to Mr Van Noten’s patronage. Now the first pieces from the SS20 collections are landing on MR PORTER and you can’t move for hippy-dippy Summer of Love trippiness that chimes with Mr Panton’s canon. So when the Antwerp Six alumnus turns off the beaten track, it’s best to follow.
Mr van Noten’s latest detour has taken him deep into the foliage, with painterly florals popping up everywhere, and early – try this camp-collar satin-twill shirt on for size (actually a good idea, since the boxy fit might be one you’ll need to open your own doors of perception to). Or this sweater, featuring smudged botanical swirls spun from metallic yarns. But it’s not all flora; fauna gets a look-in, too. Take these leopard-print wool trousers, which would blend in in the dappled woodland and savannah habitats of the eponymous cat, but would probably stand out on your local high street just as a real-life leopard would.