Fashion masterclass from Belgian ace

Models present creations by Belgian designer Dries Van Noten at the Hotel de Ville as part of his ready-to-wear winter collection during Paris fashion week yesterday. photograph: benoit tessier/reuters

Models present creations by Belgian designer Dries Van Noten at the Hotel de Ville as part of his ready-to-wear winter collection during Paris fashion week yesterday. photograph: benoit tessier/reuters

Thu, Feb 28, 2013, 00:00

Appealing winter collection is romantic and easy-going in spirit

Paris fashion week opened yesterday on a damp grey day in the French capital with more than 80 catwalk shows on the official schedule taking place over the next seven days.

The most hotly awaited is that of the 29-year-old American designer Alexander Wang who is making his debut at Balenciaga on Avenue George V this morning.

Yesterday Belgian supremo Dries Van Noten, showing for the third time in the gilded opulence of the Hotel de Ville (where a major exhibition called Paris Haute Couture opens on Saturday) sent out an appealing winter collection against the soundtrack of Irving Berlin’s 1930s hit Dancing Cheek to Cheek, immortalised by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

More romantic and easy-going in spirit than his last, it showed how, in the hands of a master, traditional masculine and feminine dress codes could be broadened and crossfertilised into clothes for the modern woman and not in the usual garconne fashion.

The first salvos, mannish navy blue jackets embellished with embroidery and new variations on the three piece suit – in bold cricket stripes, metallic brocades or Indian style with tunics over trousers – were typical of his approach.

The layered look, sleek and slimline, made for longer lengths.

That meant either a tunic or knit over navy cigarette pants – an easy item to wear – or a four-tiered dress or fringed skirt.

Varsity jackets were updated in silver and grey and a boyish trouser suit looked more feminine in faded grey floral prints.

Marabou feathers, in pink grey or black, were used flirtatiously, as trimmings on hems or shoulders with the same carefree abandon as a boyfriend shirt over school grey pants, but always with a lightness of touch.

Black-quilted jackets with heavy silver embroidery added a touch of his familiar Chinoiserie.

Fake furs

Coats came in many guises; oversized in shaggy fake furs, in grey knits studded with feathery tassels, in fluffy grey marabou or in the conventional camel style belted in silver and worn with slimline pants, flat brogues or spindle-heeled silver stilettos – with ankle socks.

As winter collections go, it was a fine introduction to the season.