It feels like the fashion crowd has waited all season for the other shoe to drop: the moment when some designer would muster the clarity to arrange a viewing of clothes any woman could look at and think, Yep, I can see myself in that. In Paris, it was Dries Van Noten who assumed the mantle of spokesperson for every woman's everyday wear. "Accessible" and "pragmatic" can sound like synonyms for "boring" in the lexicon of fashion-speak, but Van Noten's simplified solutions for urban elegance quickly put a stop to that kind of talk.
It was his marshaling of easy silk pieces that did it: breezy duster coats; shifts; and regular, non-freaky pants and shorts, pulled together with high heels, great jewelry, and sunglasses. As a look, it was a distinct move away from the layered, multi-printed, world-traveler groove he normally works. Restricting patterns to graphic grids, stripes, and checkerboards and color to black, white, and a section of orange, Van Noten subsumed the eclectic-ethnic effects into the jewelry and shoes: brass bells as necklaces, sequined tie-on wraps as bracelets, a note of "African" metal-studded craftwork in the ankle-strapped heels.
For day, that made the kind of sense women all over the world will get—and for evening, there was a stellar moment that distilled something that spoke directly to the tradition of rational American sportswear elegance that has gone missing in recent years: a white shirt tucked into a long, sinuous gold Lurex skirt. Strange that it's taken a designer from Belgium to retrieve the power of that simplicity, but it felt spot-on.