Even though Dries Van Noten showed his Fall 2013 collection two days ago, I saw it for the first time today.
I, along with around 30 other invited guests, was shut out of Wednesday's show at the Hotel de Ville after building security threw some glass barricades in front of us following a change in venue capacity.
But maybe it was meant to be--because in the end, I was able to see Van Noten's stellar fall collection up close and personal in his showroom instead of on the runway. I got to feel the floral embroidery over a striped blazer, marvel at the delicate butterfly painting on a pair of leather brogues, contemplate stealing a neoprene sweatshirt with colored strips of python on the front, and ogle a pair of chunky heels covered with sequins.
The inspiration was Fred and Ginger--a fusing of the tailored menswear staples that Van Noten always interprets so well for women with the truly girly, a la the talented Ms. Rogers. Think a white oversized button-down over a navy skirt studded with feathers over grey wool creased dress pants, or an embroidered club striped blazer over a fringed flapper dress over a stiff blue button-down--my favorite look. Prints, usually a key part of Van Noten's collections, were toned down--only one faded floral wallpaper print showed up on tiered boxy A-line dresses, jackets, and silk blouses.
There was a relaxed elegance to everything: Suiting was slouchy, knits were of the oversized "boyfriend" variety, and even the feather-covered evening looks had an ease to them when paired with pants. Van Noten made mixing these two seemingly disparate styles--menswear tailoring with feminine glamor--look easy. And that's exactly what Fred and Ginger were all about: Making it look easy, not giving you one glimpse into the effort that went into that last dance.