Dries Van Noten F/W 2016

Don Giovanni van Noten

“We waited 16 years but it was certainly worth it,” purred Dries Van Noten after unveiling a returning warrior collection on the stage of the Palais Garnier.

The Belgian requested the use of the famed Paris opera house a decade and half ago, and finally they said yes. Guest entered like performers: not though the grand marble staircase at the front but via Place Diaghilev and up battered backstage stairs. The photographers pit and the magnificent opera house was the backdrop.

The look was opulent – half the chorus line, the models that is, was covered in bullion, insignia, gold thread and regimental badges.

Regimental badges were seen all over the runway

“I was thinking of the Sixties Psychedelic of Beatniks and LSD and how Vietnam vets ripped their medals off and turn their uniforms into something crazy and cosmic!” explained van Noten.

The tailoring was truly novel – most spectacularly the khaki trench coats, shorn of arms and cut as kilts; or the Game of Thrones medieval shorts worn with leggings and military boots and the John Snow Lord Commander flared coats and fur collars.

Khaki kilts

Though the collection was imagined back in August, well before the November attacks, they reflected today’s mood with its fear of a long, and seemingly inevitable, struggle against a determined and intolerant enemy.

Curiously, the show’s key suit felt prescient too – a baggy pants and long double-breasted jacket that recalled David Bowie.

Long double-breasted jackets and wide trousers

In a brilliant finale, the curly haired cast took their bow in unison on the stage before the empty opera house before bowing to the audience of black clad buyers and editors. An absorbing ending that earned the designer the biggest applause of the Continental season so far.