If the Orient Express were to travel from Las Vegas to Asia with a final stop in Paris for Fashion Week, you might guess Dries Van Noten had been riding this train in the run-up to his spring collection.
The Dries Express started us off in 1960s Las Vegas with a nod to femme-fatale casino wives. Out came lucky ladies in trapeze monochrome coats, cocktail dresses and pencil skirts printed in an asiatic toile de Jouy and paired with cropped jackets. Not just any cropped jackets. While Dries doesn’t do couture, his extraordinary shoulder and pocket embellishment on these canvas white jackets made you wonder why the hell not.
As our journey continued, sounds of train horns dramatically blared through the speakers and Dries swapped in more lush and contrasting prints. Tropical Bali greens and citrus fruits flashed by us on models with wet-look ponytails and then more toile de Jouy prints, this time black-and-white and pastoral.
In what was surely a deliberate optical illusion, the rushing models almost appeared as blurred landscapes seen through a train window. For one fleeting, romantic moment, Van Noten even took us back to a bygone era of colonial India, giving us mustard trousers with lavish peplum at the hips inspired by traditional Indian kurtas, alongside English embroidery and lace dresses.
One had to rely heavily on the show’s soundtrack to figure out just where in the world we actually were on this dream-like train ride. At one point we heard the voice of Elvis Presley and knew we were back in Vegas. On skirts and raincoats, photo prints of casino lights and nighttime cityscapes seeped into black matte satin. Then Van Noten bet double or nothing on the same cityscapes reinterpreted in Swarovski crystals—and struck it rich.