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Dries Van Noten’s Posh Patchwork Opulence

Godfrey Deeny
March 02nd, 2011 @ 12:28 AM - Paris

In the first major runway show of the Paris fall 2011 fashion season, Dries Van Noten unveiled a lavish patchwork and mix and match take on modern fashion that earned him a joyous and loud reception.

"It's all of my themes, but that bit more opulent. But also with a little touch of Les Ballet Ruses and Nijinsky in there too," explained the designer backstage, after winning a thundering burst of applause at his show, staged Wednesday, March 2, in the City Hall of Paris.

Pretty much every major fashion editor of note sat front row at this show, whose two defining looks were almost a score of jigsaw puzzle silk cocktail dresses, and a regiment of curvy grand dame coats.

His dresses, almost invariably cut at the knee, were each charming melanges of blotch checks, ethnic colors, glittering hues and bold primary colors. They were classy, edgy and polished.

His coats raced across many cultures, incorporating Chinese jacquards, Russian Imperial style furs and '30s style checks, all finished with large lapels and micro thin belts.

The collection also echoed Van Noten's own most recent men's show, where the choice of inspiration was U.K. rock artist David Bowie. In that January show, he also sent out voluminous coats and jackets, finished with detachable rabbit skin mufflers and collars. But while Van Noten preferred a military Bowie for men, his Bowie take for women was far more poetic, maybe a tad too much so.

Indeed Van Noten's lyrical style often works best when he combines it with a tougher utilitarian or regimental finish. For, while today's show was a great statement of modernist feminine fashion, it nonetheless also came across as a little too similar to several of Van Noten's recent collections. In a word, it lacked that element of striking surprise that all truly great fashion moments require.

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