Showing at the drab and dated French Communist party headquarters was the first clue that Dries Van Noten had turned the page on his romantic leanings. His distinctly serious collection was a manifesto on dressing for success—in a Cold War bureaucracy. Through a multitude of belted coats, double-breasted suits with exaggerated shoulders, pleated trousers and generously cut shirts, he proved that austerity needn’t constrict. For good or bad, the palette of pistachio, burgundy and rust evoked Seventies station-wagon interiors. Only the most confident of men could design—or wear—clothes inspired by an era known for ugliness and make them look this chic.

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