PARIS (AP) — Dries Van Noten's unchallenged mastery of contradictory styles was on full view in the Belgian fashion house's spring-summer 2014 collection in Paris.

Only at a Van Noten show can opulent gold hang from sportswear vest straps, peasant blouses meet luxurious colorful damasks, ethnic beading come alongside John Lennon-style shades, and flattened torsos jar with billowing multi-directional 3-D frills, and, still, all succeed and prompt whooping applause.

It's no small feat.

This season saw the Belgian designer explore his Midas touch.

Gently flirting with the metallics craze seen plentifully this season, an ungarish gold appeared in flowers, reliefs, and in pleated frills and rouching.

In one look, a huge gold waist-flap set off the contradictory styles with glamor. In the ensemble, a vertical loose cream jacket on a flat-fronted gray top was set alight by the horizontal gold accordion-pleats — finished off with a suitably out-of-place, decoratively textured black skirt.

The jarring effect was seen elsewhere more subtly.

One bright-red knee-length jacket and cropped gray palazzo pant, for example, plunged the silhouette straight down. But an exaggeratedly oversized croc clutch, which the model gripped on to for dear life, shot the silhouette to a horizontal axis.

Van Noten must have had great fun in putting this collection together.

The show ended on a high.

Van Noten's obsession with flowers reached a climax with one dizzying look of floral-shaped rouching that the program notes said used up around 16 meters (52 feet) of silk.

In warm cream, black and golden ochre, this incredible creation turned whole body into a billowing, 3-D experience and blurred the line between fashion and art.


Thomas Adamson can be followed at


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