Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Noten

Van Noten was born in Antwerp in 1958. His father owned a menswear shop and his grandfather was a tailor. He attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, graduating in 1980. After freelancing for a few years in Belgium, he launched his own RTW label in 1986. As part of the Antwerp Six collective of designers (other members included Walter Van Beirendonck and Ann Demeulemeester), he showcased his first collection in London. Barneys New York immediately ordered from him and Louis Boston sold his clothing in their luxury store in Boston. His own storefront opened in 1989. 


His style of clothing was a little eccentric, with plentiful use of prints, colour, unusual fabrics, layering and deconstruction.

As the minimalism of the 1990s took hold, he fell out of favour somewhat before making a comeback in the mid 2000s, marked by his CFDA designer of the year award in 2008. 


In 1995, he wanted to find regular people to model in his Spring ’96 show rather than professional models. He cast a group of 72 from bars, cafes and schools. The show was noted at the time for the broad range of ages and body types of the models. They laughed and smiled down the runway, which was at a drained public pool. The idea was that any woman could look good in a Dries design.  


Cate Blanchett wore one of his designs to the Oscars in 2008 and he has continued to cater to high profile clients including Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Maggie Gyllenhaal. 


The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris mounted an exhibition in 2014 devoted to Van Noten's designs (180 pieces) and their influences, which later traveled to Antwerp. 


He was made an officer of the Order des Arts et des Lettres of the French Republic in 2014 and a Belgian Baron in 2017. 

Jodie Comer’s character Villanelle wore a brocade Dries suit in the third episode of Killing Eve in 2018. It became an iconic costume and now has its own section on wikipedia. 


The company was kept private for many years and Dries never advertised, allowing his fashion shows to speak for themselves. 


In 2018, the company was acquired by the Spanish firm Puig but Dries remained chair of the board and creative director.

“My joy is to create a garment that fuses and balances beauty, craft and function,” Van Noten said in an interview on his website. “I enjoy juggling with colours, textures and light in a way that evokes rather than provokes.”


Justin Berkowitz, fashion director of Bloomingdale’s, told the New York Times: “The thing about Dries is the way worlds are brought together and the elements styled so interestingly. His silhouettes are not necessarily the most outrageous. Yet whatever he does speaks to a broad range of references, this mind that interests you and a taste that intrigues. He might choose a colour from a Francis Bacon painting, or a pattern from a Vasarely print.”

Dries announced his surprise retirement from the label in March 2024. 

Wishing the fashion genius all the best with whatever he does next!

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