#SuzyPFW Dries: Frozen Contrasts

#SuzyPFW Dries: Frozen Contrasts

Madonna's Frozen from her 1998 album Ray Of Light - the finale's soundtrack - summed up the extraordinary reach of Dries Van Noten's spring/summer 2017 collection.

The Belgian designer was certainly engaged in the Big Frieze  - of flowers that is, encased in blocks of ice along the runway. As they melted, the water trickled, pooled and ultimately ran across the stone catwalk, lapping round the heels of decorative shoes.

So unlike, Madonna's wistful lyrics, Dries had already melted the audience's heart before a single outfit walked the runway.

The frozen floral work by Japanese artist Azuma Makoto was mesmerising. But so were the clothes in their mixture of the simple and the elaborate. That might mean a flower patterned coat, suggesting silken past grandeur, or an effortless sky blue silk dress with a floral patch at the hem. There were even touches of Victoriana in a high, velvet colour.

So the collection was predicated on opposites, which made it seem sometimes beautiful, but also confusing. The show started with an icy touch - a handful of dresses and coats, all white except for splashes of sunshine yellow florals on one chest.

Then came black, or black and white stripes, some big silhouettes, but with the heart of the matter in floral effects. They were apparently painted randomly to contrast with the perfection of the iced flowers.

Then sunshine yellow came out with sporty pieces, as in a zippered jacket, or seductive, with a black bra worn on the exterior of an outfit. Throughout the long show, there was a sense of past history colliding with the present.

"It's about opposites - handwork as opposed to digital; a dress in the most exquisite jacquards, but no collar - something completely bare and then the same shape completely overdone by embroidery," said Dries backstage. 

"Everything was about how we can have as much contrast as possible. And I did that in a direct way - picking out flowers, like picking out garments."

The designer said that he also threw in "almost historical pieces".

Yet with every word Dries said about this casual way of designing, the less I believed him. How could this meld of past and present or plain and decorative not be planned? I would describe the show as I would the flowers - artfully chosen and cleverly placed. But, like the ever changing soundtracks, there was too much going on to have clarity on the clothes.