A wax seal on the envelope revealed a cryptic cut-out gothic letter R sandwiched between transparent sheets. Nothing seemed evident, but after last season’s rewriting of the Dries rulebook, we were surely in for something different.
The show began with a brutal flash of light, and a hard industrial metronome-like tick-tock soundtrack began as the models raced out. The big reveal? Flesh. The first look was flowing cotton, a naked torso, an embroidered holster and a hybrid ballet shoe, giving us the keys to unlock the whole process: the R referred to Rudolf Nureyev, the dissident Soviet maverick ballet dancer.
Dries said backstage that he wanted to take away the rock ’n’ roll, and focus on sensuality. The clothes were certainly sexy with body-conscious knits, after-hours robes, strapped holsters, and that hybrid ballet shoe, with its leather base and elasticated strapping felt almost kinky. It was a new interpretation of the athleticism that has been haunting the men’s shows, and this Dries-ian twist of elegance was a welcome addition to the slew of tracksuits and sweatpants that we’ve gotten used to.
The unrelenting soundtrack, Rosas danst Rosas, by Thierry De Mey & Peter Vermeersch, was a subtle reminder that Rudolf, like Dries himself, was an innovator. Both are celebrated for their reinvention of the codes, bringing the worlds of modern and classical together, producing something startling and fresh. Dries is in perfect form.