A fine-feathered trend
At the start of Paris Fashion Week, Belgian designer Dries Van Noten sent an unexpected line-up down the runway for his autumn-winter 2013/14 show. And it may be one of the most interesting shows of the week.
It began with masculine coats, intricate beaded and embroidered emblems glittering against sombre, heavy fabric. We traversed Indian territory in embroidered brocade pants and jackets and salwar-kameez-inspired tunics and pants. Then came the feathers - long and colourful over jackets, tops and skirts. Somehow it worked - even a coral pink feathered top (above right) with canary-yellow feathered knee skirt.
It can be difficult to describe Van Noten's work. Phrases like "relaxed androgyny with showgirl feathers and Indian influences" don't quite capture the substance of this stunning collection. His ability to apply a modern touch to traditional craftsmanship is a signature.
Van Noten represents an underplayed cool and honesty that fashion is nostalgic for. Here are clever clothes for the more thoughtful fashion fan: made to last and not slaves to flash-in-the-pan trends.
This show in the opulent grand ballroom of the Hôtel de Ville brought us feminine prowess, with the lightness and movement of the feathers contrasting with the stiff fabrics of a winter coat or tunic skirt. Shoes were either manly brogues or elegant stilettos.
Diverse shows that day went from Gareth Pugh's Gothic purism - all tough sophistication in white, black and blue full-length gowns - to Rochas' 1950s femininity, in exaggerated skirt volumes and pastels. And at this point it's rather early to pinpoint major trends for the season.
But Van Noten, with his opening outfits, might have predicted that men's tailoring and suiting will emerge as a major trend this autumn. Start collecting boyfriend jackets and tough, tailored pieces now.