Photos: Yannis Vlamos/GoRunway.com
Dries Van Noten (born 1958) is a Belgian fashion designer and an eponymous fashion brand. In 2005, the New York Times described him “one of fashion’s most cerebral designers”. His style is said to be “eccentric”, and fell out of favor during the long period of minimalistic fashion in the early 1990s, only to make a come back towards the mid 2000s, culminating with Van Noten’s winning of the International Award of the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2008.
Van Noten was born into a family of garment makers and traders: his father owned a menswear shop and his grandfather was a tailor.
Van Noten was one of the Antwerp Six who traveled to London and made a splash in the mid-1980s. In 1985 he established his own label and opened his first boutique in the Belgian fashion capital, and in 1993 he brought his debut women’s collection to Paris. “I was doing something different than other designers,” he explained in 2000. “I showed delicate, fine dresses with rose prints and a rather Indian influence.”
Van Noten currently creates four collections a year (men’s and women’s, both for summer and winter).
The brand does not offer haute couture; all of its designs are ready to wear and available at retail: “‘I’m a little naive but I don’t like the idea of showing things that you don’t sell in a store”, said Van Noten in a recent interview. His work is said to be characterized by use of prints, colors, original fabrics and layering. He does not advertise.
Fabric is usually Van Noten’s starting point, along with a certain trademark exoticism—anything “that reroutes us from the ordinary,”to use his words. “I’m known for color and prints and embroideries,” he told Vogue in 2007. “Normally the more clashing it is, the more that I like it!”
While Dries Van Noten works and lives in Antwerp, the brand has shops in multiple locations worldwide. The first, opening in Antwerp in 1989, was “Het Modepaleis”. Shop openings in Hong Kong and Tokyo followed. In early 2007, a shop was opened in Paris, decorated with antiques collected by Van Noten and his partner Patrick Vangheluwe,followed ten months later by a shop in Singapore. The brand is also said to be carried in some 400 fashion shops around the world.As the brand is a private company, not much is known about its financial affairs, although it claims to have annual sales of some 30 million euro.
Van Noten and Vangheluwe reside in a house situated on a nearly seven-acre plot of land outside of Antwerp, where Van Noten exercises his passion for gardening.