Dries Van Noten shed a lovely sidelight on how to wear summer's crumply, crinkly, biscuity-beige duster coats, shorts, and loose dresses. By showing them with pale powdered faces, red lipstick, and high heels, he nicely circumnavigated the potential pitfalls of fabrics that, carelessly thrown on, can end up having all the mystique of potato sacks.
Full marks for bringing a kind of gentle glamour to his opening passage, then. But Van Noten's ever-widening constituency is not in search of a punchily obvious trend. What pleases his followers is seeing him just keepin' on being Dries, season in, season out. That always involves some ethnic touches and lots of arts-and-crafts textures, made in shapes calculated to frame a personality rather than flash a hot bod. This collection serviced all those needs, with an excursion into Asian-influenced kimono fabrics, tie-dye, and flower prints, all sparked up for the season with some metallic brocades. The designer's obi-like wraps, bound around small jackets, might have signaled a nod to the current feeling for the cinched waist, but it was done entirely within his own frame of reference. And since Van Noten's fans are conscious avoiders of clothes that scream "fashion," this was a collection calculated to speak to his customers as successfully as ever.