Suits, no matter how alluring, don’t suit all women. Yet the suit has been the primary focus of designers championing refinement this fall. On Sunday, Dries Van Noten proposed an alternative, a sportswear-based lineup that was sophisticated and a little bit twisted.


The twist came via a colorful palette without euphoria, its hues taken from the paintings of Francis Bacon. “Bacon’s subjects are disturbing, but so, also, his use of color is disturbing,” the designer said. “I tried to explain that in this collection.” Hence, the dulled tones of should-be-brights used in discordant combinations. The ruse proved perfect for transforming clothes rooted in a classic vernacular, pieces as simple as blazers, shirts, trousers, leathers and some of the best coats of the season. A muddied pink coat topped a pumpkin shirt and gray pants; off-shades of orange paired up for a blouse and skirt; a teal safari jacket went over an ocher shirt and blush skirt. The deliberate oddness of each shade was only heightened by the combinations, creating a mood that approached melancholy. Yet once the clothes hit the stores, the opposite should prove true: The colors will seem buoyant, but not impossible, as so many true brights do in the glare of reality.


Van Noten’s other big motif was prints, and, once again, he impressed with his innovation. He collected random cocktail fabrics from the Sixties through the Eighties, photographed them in black-and-white and placed the photos in random blocks on other, solid fabrics for separates and dresses, including a languid silk T-shirt extended into a gown for a different take on au courant glamour.

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