"Unconventional classicism" was Dries Van Noten's theme this season, and nothing said that better than a catwalk of traditional herringbone parquet composed of strips of masking tape. (How's that for a "more dash than cash" solution to your flooring dilemma?) Dries talked about adding the tiniest twist to create the unexpected (he mentioned a hint of ostrich on a pair of high-tops), but his best ideas were actually pretty big twists. One shirt was delicately sheer in silk organdy. Another shirt felt like old flannel, but it was actually the same silk organdy needled onto a light wool base. Why such extraordinary means to such an ordinary end? Well, transformations of all kinds were at the heart of the collection. Prints from lingerie silks of the thirties and forties were combined to create patterns for coats, scarves, a quilted bomber jacket, and pajama pants, which appeared hereas in several other places this seasonas a viable option for daytime dressing. (Picture them with a brushed-tweed topcoat for the full "unconventional" effect.) Gray flannel trousers with a drawstring waist were roomy enough for a martial arts workout, but they still came with a neatly formal cuff. A cotton shirt in a banker's stripe trailed away at the back in a punk bum-flap.
Dries may seem like a master of intelligent restraint, but his youth had its rough-and-tumble moments. Credit those, perhaps, for the flash of punk in the bondage strap on a pair of trousers, or a loosely woven striped sweater. And the show's hybrid hairstyle streaked punky color down the severe side-part of Bowie's Thin White Duke. We might miss the solemnly hypnotic beauty of earlier collections, but, by way of compensation, there's the fact that, with such "tiny" twists, Dries has confidently eased himself into something more playful, more immediateand ultimately more accessible.