David Bowie and the Ballets Russes were what Dries Van Noten cited as the inspiration behind his stellar fall-winter 2011 collection. But rather than an homage to 1970s androgyny, the Belgian designer presented a heady mix of bold silk prints, gold lame and brocade infused with artistic references such as those patterns that hinted at Russian constructivism. Standouts included a classically proportioned gold embroidered coat with fur lapels and a skirt with swirls of appliquéd snakeskin. But it was Dries’ simply cut dresses that impressed most: for both day or evening, they featured intricate patchworks of splashy patterns and unusual combinations of materials for yet more artistic affect. Some of the best appeared to be based on loosely fitting tees that became maxi dresses. Bold but easy to where, they are, in our opinion, the masterpieces of the season.

What inspired Dries Van Noten FW11-12?

“A Liberal woman… Unsparing in her style and allure… Spontaneous and free.

A dialogue between Ziggy and Diaghilev.

A view from today on enlightened and exuberance.

Lush compositions with a soft and caring rigour. The graphic swirls of wool bouclé. Lavish tableaux of textures, techniques and blocks of colour and print.

Touches of Motherwell, Braque, Mark Reilly, Nijinsky, Balanchine, Leon Bakst, Cecily Brown, Massine.

Minute and exacting detailing act as precise brush strokes in a sweeping, rhapsodic canvas.

Snake skin applique spin intricate motifs on sheer silk mousseline and wools.”

The Collection at a Glance:

Draped, asymmetric, tie-belted, cape-sleeve. Mid-length, starkly-contrasted lapels.

Bonsai, pop, ikat, feather motifs.

Gold, jet, caramel, eau-de-nil, burnt orange, jade, coral, tortoiseshell, azure, emerald, citron.

Artisanal brocades and jacquard from Lyon, boucle tweed, silks of all gauges and weaves (twill, shantung, satin, mousseline), snake, fox, rich brocades, felted wool, crisp cotton.

Clear and tinted plexi-heels, blue velvet, snakes of many colours, tortoise effect detailing on shoes and bags.