“It was hell,” said Dries Van Noten of the birth process for his new collection. So many threads of narrative, so many fabrics and complex treatments, so much more of everything than usual. But it’s kind of been that way since Van Noten started working on the retrospective that opens at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris at the beginning of March. He’s been digging deeper and deeper into the museum’s archives, finding inspiration in the clothing of distant centuries and drawing parallels with his own history, confronting it. And today’s show seemed to bring something to a head. The designer’s normal impulse to move on had become aneed to move on, to find a different way to do things. For starters, no print, no embroidery. Those Van Noten signatures of long-standing were replaced by color—tie-dyed, dip-dyed blues, pinks, yellows, and greens—and a different kind of elaborate embellishment: trailing laces and bondage straps, dyed fox scarves, pearls trimming high, frilled collars…some of the details you’d see in ancient portraits. “Rave and Renaissance” blared the show notes. Van Noten, always happy to create a new hybrid, was blending history and his story.