Dries Van Noten could never see a woman as a power vixen or a sex bomb. His natural affections have always tended toward the eclectic, eccentric, intellectual type whose mind has been broadened by travel. This woman likes gentle, layered, softly colored, unrestricting clothes, and—Van Noten has discovered—she has a surprising eye for the odd, richly sparkling accessory or two. She is, in fact, his customer, so it's hardly surprising to find the designer staying true to the arts-and-crafts, twenties-thirties sensibility that just so happens to be sweeping fashion right now.

This season, she is personified as a poetry-reading Bloomsbury aesthete with a passion for chinoiserie. She lives in dusty, washed-out colors—mushroom, plaster pink, aged greens—made up into loose twenties blouses, block-patterned jacquard coats, and tweedy cardigan knits. She has traveled, probably by air (which maybe accounts for her eccentric insistence on wearing Red Baron-esque leather flying trews). One of her adventures clearly took her to Somerset Maugham's Singapore, for she has returned with embroidered silk pajamas and richly embellished Chinese jackets as souvenirs. For afternoons in her study (writing her memoirs in purple ink, no doubt), she sits comfortably in silken dévoré-velvet kimonos to summon the muse.

But that's enough of that. What practical fashion fiends will note from this collection is Van Noten's way with a great decorative scarf—an accessory category he has made almost his own. For fall, it's transformed into a little fur neck-collar with a jewel-encrusted placket—an instant must-have, even if you're not a paid-up member of the eternal Van Noten sisterhood.