Little did the photographer whistling Strangers in the Night, right before the first model walked out at Dries van Noten, know that his not-exactly-requested serenade would be a rather fitting prelude to the show. Moments later, once a very happy and chatty Kanye took his seat and right after the overhead stage lights were lowered to ominously hover just above the photographers’ heads (compelling them to let out a rather anxious sounding collective yelp), one a cappella song followed another and what songs! From Debbie Harry to Destiny’s Child (Independent Women, if you must know) to RiRi and Missy Elliott and Bjork – no music, no beats, just some powerful voices. What happens when you strip all the noise away? Magic.
Following last season’s dreamscape of a show, this afternoon’s outing seemed determined to remain pretty rooted in reality, albeit one where an embroidered tie-on ballgown skirt could come in handy. Taking the more-is-more approach to styling, Dries showed piece after piece that could, and should and will, live a long and happy life - pieces that will become old favourites, worn and selected time and time again. In other hands this would have come pretty high on the Too Much scale. That it never once did is to be expected of someone so masterful at mixing textures and colours, cultures and eras. The very first coat, for example, featured a shearling collar, gold-threaded jacquard in the middle and quilted silk at the end. Another featured the same collar followed by brown teddy bear colour velvet before ending in a panel of black fur. Opulently embellished dresses had a sporty, sweatshirt cut to them, knits were frayed or trimmed with feathers and a gorgeous rose-printed robe of a coat featured a subtle but so there contrasting edging. Large shimmering palettes covered the top of trench coats whereas smaller sequins drenched skirts and cropped boxy tops layered over, well, pretty much everything mentioned above. Floral prints mixed with Eastern woodblock prints. Everything was then grounded with the use of utilitarian cargo trousers, roomy khaki and navy shorts and block-heeled shoes making this, yes, a working wardrobe but one that works for you rather you putting in all the work (that happens. A lot!)
When the Dries army walked out in unison for the finale the effect was pretty formidable. A great woman’s great wardrobe and a hefty dose of confidence to wear it any way she well damn likes. Who needs background noise?