Dries Van Noten, the epic story of a cult designer

Even the greatest know when to bow out. Designer Dries Van Noten announced on Tuesday, March 19th, that he is preparing to retire. He will present his final fashion show at the helm of his Maison in June. Let’s look back on the career of one of the most iconic couturiers in the fashion industry.

 

Born in Antwerp in 1958, Dries Van Noten grew up in a family where the love for clothing was intergenerational. Son of a men’s ready-to-wear boutique owner and grandson of a tailor, he quickly showed an interest in fashion that he decided to nurture.

 

His training began within the walls of the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. In the fashion department of the institution, he honed his technical skills while developing his own artistic vision. In 1986, he made his first steps onto the international stage at an exhibition in London with the collective of the Antwerp Six, a group of young Belgian designers who captivated with the subversive nature of their creations. 

 

 

That same year, he launched his eponymous brand and presented his first men’s collection “Sailing” at the British Designer Show in Olympia. The designer already stood out for his sensitivity to beautiful materials. Throughout his career, his bold use of color as well as his eclectic blends of patterns and textures would become his signature.

 

His uniquely original style earned him worldwide renown. In his collections, the Belgian designer highlights oriental-inspired prints by incorporating them into decidedly contemporary and urban pieces. He manages to pay homage to cultures by showing respect and admiration, never crossing into cultural appropriation.

 

 

Dries Van Noten’s influences are manifold. He draws as much from his travels as from art or nature to fuel his creativity.

 

While the Dries Van Noten brand may not be widely known to the general public, the brand has been consistently recognized over the years by the fashion industry. 

 

Recognized by the Industry

 

In 2008, the designer’s work was honored with the Designer of the Year Award, a prestigious distinction awarded by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. In June 2020 and September 2021, the industry once again showed its admiration for the designer by nominating him for the same award.

 

Museums also seek to highlight the creative process of this fashion icon. In 2014, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris dedicated an exhibition to deciphering all the sources of inspiration used by the designer before developing a collection. Silhouettes and artworks converse with each other, offering a sublime dive into Dries Van Noten’s imagination.

 

The MAD exhibition “Dries Van Noten: inspirations” invites the public to discover the origins of the collections designed by the Belgian couturier

 

 

The year 2015 was one of recognition for the designer. He appeared on the list of the 500 most influential personalities in the fashion sector according to The Business of Fashion and was also awarded the Order of Arts and Letters by former minister Jack Lang.

 

The Art of the Fashion Show

 

From the outset of his brand, Dries Van Noten affirmed his taste for unconventional fashion shows in venues such as Passage Brady, a gallery of Indian restaurants in the 9th arrondissement of Paris. A penchant he would maintain throughout his career.

 

For his Spring-Summer 2005-2006 collection, he made waves by having his models parade on a table while guests dined and enjoyed the spectacle.

 

In 2017, the designer celebrated his hundredth show during Paris Fashion Week. For this grand occasion, all his favorite models were reunited on the runway: Malgosia Bela, Amber Valletta, Carolyn Murphy, and Nadja Auermann. The silhouettes were an ode to the collections imagined by the designer over the years, featuring some of his most remarkable prints.

 

54 models were gathered to celebrate the designer’s hundredth fashion show

 

Over the past forty years, Dries Van Noten has dazzled the fashion sphere with the technicality of his silhouettes and the freshness of his colors. While a chapter closes today for the designer, he will always remain a part of an important chapter in fashion history.

 

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Featured Photo: Spring-Summer 2015 fashion show © Dries Van Noten

Grâce à une veille accrue et à une excellente connaissance de ces secteurs, la rédaction de Luxus Magazin décrypte pour ses lecteurs les principaux enjeux économiques et technologiques de la mode, l’horlogerie, la joaillerie, la gastronomie, les parfums et cosmétiques, l’hôtellerie, et l’immobilier de prestige.

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