They say Paris is the most romantic place in the world, but nowhere else in the city was quite as sensual on Thursday night as La Halle Freyssinet, where Dries Van Noten was holding his S/S 14 show. He gave us clothes for seducing - gothic floral pyjamas, rich velvety tanks and jackets decorated with gold bullion embroidery. But only Van Noten knows how to take a head-to-toe floral look and make it have the same everyday elegance as a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. So while the collection hit a high note on the runway - assisted, of course, by the thumping drum beat provided by Cindy Blackman Santana - it will also translate well to stores.
There was an element of Victoriana to this showing, both in those William Morris-esque florals and the rich tapestry prints. The historical element came from Van Noten's use of the archives of Les Arts Décoratifs - he is the subject of an exhibition there next year - where he unearthed floral prints from all through the last three centuries. Morris, despite his decorative reputation, was a staunched advocate of 'good things', condemning the 'puffery of wares' that littered the homes of the Victorian public. Van Noten seemed to be saying the same thing about modern wardrobes - sure he'd thrown in some opulent embroidery and beading, but there was an ease and simplicity to these perfectly-crafted looks, despite the bold decorative element. The collection was luxurious, but light - a tough balance to cut when you're showing rich, rusty-toned loungewear that, at first glance, wouldn't look out of place on the back of some cigar-smoking, whiskey-toting playboy.
We've seen a lot of 'feminine' influences entering the menswear scene recently - see the work of a number of the designers on show at Fashion East, Martine Rose's frills or J.W Anderson's last two collection. Van Noten's show certainly nodded to this modern notion of masculinity - but only he can say it with quite so many flowers and still appear confident and nonchalant. There was a richness and depth to this collection that equipped the wearer with an aura of regality - if that's not truly masculine then what is?