With glitter on the floorboards, dry ice in the air, and trees bursting through the great arched windows, Dries Van Noten transformed the nineteenth-century study hall of the École des Beaux-Arts into a magical hothouse and filled it with an artist's vision.

First he sent out a series of angels in simple white cotton long smocks, waistcoats, and wide trousers. Then he shifted up a gear, with dresses that spilled ruffles and pleats galore. Next came the taupe, interspersed with beat-up silver jackets and trenchcoats. As the color seeped down the runway—from the palest lime to anthracite, putty, and every blue under the sun—so too did the fabrics. Gauzy layers, swishing silks, and sturdy linens were soon oozing decoration. Exquisite embroideries trickled down sleeves or burst over the backs of shrunken jackets. Prints became bolder, in purple, emerald, and lime, blossoming over circle skirts and fragile slipdresses. Even the accessories looked inviting: Lush silk opera capelets were slung over shoulders—the spring alternative to the fur tippet? Silver satchels curved around the hip or the derrière.

When, at the end, Van Noten's model army surged toward the cameras, all thirty-five outfits appeared to have been dipped in ink: a complete spectrum of blue-blacks. It has become the designer's trademark to use his genius sense of color in this way, much to the delight of his faithful clientele.