‘Japanese, Chinese and Korean,’ said Dries Van Noten backstage of the prints that graced his collection. He said he’d been inspired by Asian costume in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, where he’d photographed historic pieces and transformed them into rich prints that appeared on everything from languid silk dresses to graphic strips on coats.
He’s not the first designer this season to be inspired by Asia – but his was the most refined and quietly sophisticated of results. The colour was a tightly controlled palette of mostly black, white and turquoise, with the occasional zing of tangerine. The texture – another big story this season – was executed here with bronze birds embroidered on the breast of a grey jacket, golden dragons circling the sleeves of a plain black top, or shiny shards of tortoiseshell that decorated the hem of a jacket and a skirt. Two styles of shoes, high and elegant or low and chunky-heeled – were also in ‘tortoiseshell’ and made you think of precious treasure.
But this being Van Noten, alongside all those boldly-coloured, slippery sensuous silks, he worked his masculine tailoring into coats and jackets which, with their collars turned up and cut from firm thick wool in grey and olive, had a distinct military flavour. As did the khaki parkas sprouting fur collars.
For evening the coats returned to silk and even more tantalising colourful prints – set off brilliantly by the suitably grand and gilded setting of the Paris Mayor’s Palace at Hotel de Ville.