Dries Van Noten Ready To Wear Fall Winter 2013 Paris

Leave it to Dries Van Noten to pick up on the man/woman trend and make it all his own.  

Instead of simply using menswear fabrics, tailoring or just pulling out a few staples from a man’s closet and doing them up in more feminine colors or textiles, Van Noten gave himself the challenge of trying to blend the strongest masculine sartorial options with the most feminine aspects of a woman’s wardrobe. Which means there was quite a bit of shimming crystals, intricate embroidery and floating feathers paired with men’s suiting in this show.

It was as if the models walking the catwalk didn’t want to decide between the two extremes and resolved to find a way to wear the two diametrically opposite ideas together in one outfit. So a collegiate striped jacket, which featured a lace appliqué down one side, came paired with a fringe flapper dress, which itself was worn over dark pants and a pair of brogue shoes. A large mohair sweater with a crystal bow embellishment at hem would show up with a tiered skirt (think collapsible cup) cut from gray suiting material. Or a man’s suit in a faded floral print and a blue striped business shirt was another way the designer blurred the lines between the two worlds.

To further blend the wardrobes together, Van Noten cut his collection in oversized shapes. Obscuring the female form with wide trousers, long full sweaters, and boxy coats. Even the outfits that came with a cloud of ostrich feathers across the top or hips masked the body in its own, more feminine, way.

Layering was another way Van Noten mixed things up in this collection. Be it tiered dresses and skirts to the more pragmatic option of building up a look with disparate items of dress.

It all made for a beautiful fashion exploration. But in the real word, when these pieces are pulled apart and added to a woman’s existing wardrobe, they will fit right in without making much of a fuss.

- Jessica Michault