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Irina Kravchenko at NathaliePhotography Jacques Habbah

Dries Van Noten AW13

The Belgian designer invades menswear with a Strictly Ballroom psychology

The soundtrack at Dries Van Noten has always been emotionally stirring in the past, but this time, it properly clued you into the show. 'Night and Day' and 'Cheek to Cheek' were classic oldies twisted into a mix. Exactly what Van Noten served up in this masterclass of a collection, teaching us all how the masculine and feminine can co-habit in pure harmony. Starting out with menswear elements such as straight-legged trousers (sometimes with an added kilt skirt), mannish Crombie coats, Savile Row fabrics and old world collegiate stripes. He then in his own words "invaded" them with feminine frou frou, derived from ice skating and ballroom dancing as the relationship between Fred and Ginger played its way into the collection. No dodgy sequins or spandex here. Instead, there was love in the air. "It’s about the love between men and women, and in the end it becomes one!," explained Van Noten backstage.

Embroideries were deliberately too bright, crystals were oversized, and there was an abundance of ostrich feathers that swept their way in to adorn traditional menswear attire. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers would collectively nod their heads at a ballroom ready ostrich feather skirt and top in contrasting candy pink and acid yellow, as well as a more demure trouser suit with a paisley embroidered jacket. You could tell Dries had a riot of a time coming up with these articulate gender clashes. Every time he commits himself to whatever contrast he is playing around with he manages to propose a modus operandi of dressing that is difficult to resist.  The waves of "Bravo!" echoing in the stately L'Hôtel de Ville at the end proved that once again, he had a hit on his hands.

Hair: Paul Hanlon

Makeup: Peter Philips

Models pictured: Ashleigh Good-@Ashleighh_Good, Marte Mei van Haaster-@martevanhaaster, Catherine McNeil-@MeowcatMccat, Nastya Kusakina-@Kusakina_Nastya, Maja Salamon-@majasalamon, Katlin Aas-@AasKatlin, Irene Hiemstra-@IRENE_X