The setting at Dries van Noten couldn't have been more different to last season. Gone were the dim lighting, the knitted, grassy catwalk and the birdsong; in their place the opulent surroundings of the Hotel de Ville, with its gilded and painted ceilings, long mirrored walls and multiple chandeliers. But when the lighting went down and the models took to the catwalk, there was less of a step-change in the clothes than setting might have initially suggested.
Certainly, the Dries girl was more urban this season, radiating low-key glamour and elegance, but her relaxed spirit remained, whether she was wearing wide-legged trousers and luxe cropped tunics, easy floral dresses, cape-like skirts, khaki macs or fluffy coats. It was the touchy-feely fabrics that really made them stand out, though: rich, metallic brocades, shaggy shearling and ramped-up embellishment, fuelled by oversized sequins, embroidered blossom and beaded landscapes, were all jumbled together in a rich, eclectic mix.
The soundtrack summed up the collection’s spirit: stripped back, acapella tracks by music's strongest women, Blondie, Kate Bush, Missy Elliot, Beyonce and Bjork. Layered though they were, these were pieces intricately designed to stand individually with ‘a disregard for the conventions of dressing’, made for real women forging their own path. And, as the models strode down the catwalk en masse for the finale, it was clear that they’re the women we really want to be.