Dries Van Noten

Tonie Ong

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Dries Van Noten Collection

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Articles on Dries Van Noten

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Fashion has become so fickle nowadays that it’s difficult for designers and labels to stay true to their own aesthetics. Through the years, various brands have had total makeovers, mostly to catch up with the trends of the times, or at times, to offer something completely new and unexpected. Although evolution is health, especially for an industry that practically gets bored by six months, to stay authentically-original has become somewhat of an anomaly. Because of big business, a lot of designers are forced to either go along with the current trends or completely reinvent themselves for the purpose of inciting conversation. However, Belgian designer Dries Van Noten never had to.

Early Life and Career of The Man Behind The Brand

He was born on May 12, 1958, in Antwerp, Belgium, to a family of tailors. His father opened up a boutique in the 1970’s, which led to Van Noten’s introduction to the fashion industry. He eventually studied fashion design at Antwerp’s Royal Academy, graduating in 1980. In the academy, he met five other designers, namely Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Van Saene, Walter Van BeirendonckMarina Yee, and Dirk Bikkembergs. Together, they formed a design collective called the “Antwerp Six”, wherein they presented their designs from a rented truck during London Fashion Week. From that point on, the designers’ names have been introduced to the industry.

Since his first debut as part of Antwerp Six, Van Noten has become an indelible fixture in the fashion industry. Unlike other designers, he has remained independent to this day, refusing to be acquired by any luxury holding’s group and only offering four ready-to-wear collections each year, two seasonal ones for women’s and another two for men’s. He also still lives and continues to work in Antwerp, even though he shows up in Paris during the women’s and men’s ready-to-wear fashion weeks. Because of his contribution to the industry, he has been awarded the CFDA International Designer of the Year award in 2008 and honored with the Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the government of France in 2014.

The Unique Dries Van Noten Style

Dubbed by the industry as one of the “most cerebral designers”, Van Noten offers a new aesthetic that is all his own. The clothes in his label are known for their unique interplay of colors, a mixture of various textiles, and combinations of prints. The designs are mostly graphic, but still refined and sophisticated. Van Noten is often inspired by nature, from the changing of weather in Paris to his gardens in Antwerp, Belgium. He played with silhouettes as well, taking on modern shapes that are popular of the times, but still retaining classic tailoring, taking on from what he learned from his family background.

The brand is also renowned for staying true to Van Noten’s design principles and rarely going with a tide of trends. It always offers classic men’s and women’s looks, even though fashion has, at many times, challenged the ideas of masculinity and femininity. Although the brand’s womenswear has often contained masculine silhouettes and his menswear has featured feminine staples, the clothes still very much reflect the preconceived notions of men’s and women’s fashions. With only a few decades under his belt, Van Noten has achieved in creating a look all his own, one that has often been copied and has influenced both his contemporaries and up and coming designers.

Red Carpet Moments

Because of the its elegant style, Dries Van Noten has become a favorite label for red carpet attendees through the years. Its heavily-embellished looks have made waves in Hollywood and are often worn by some of the most revered actresses in the entertainment field. One of the most memorable red carpet moments was when a pregnant Cate Blanchett wore a dark plum evening dress from the label on the Oscars red carpet in 2008. From that point on, Blanchett has become a faithful client of the label has worn many of their pieces in various events.

Another Oscar moment for the brand was when actress Maggie Gyllenhaal wore a printed number from their Fall 2010 collection to the 2010 ceremony. Known for wearing printed pieces against a sea of bold colors and sparkles, Gyllenhaal has also become a muse for the Belgian-based brand. Beyond Hollywood however, Queen Mathilde of Belgium is a known client of the brand, having worn the label countless times in numerous royal events. One memorable occasion was when she stepped out in a Fall 2014 coat with crutches. Although Belgium has other notable designers, Van Noten has become the unequivocal favorite of members of the Belgian Royal Family.

Brand Expansion

Since launching in 1986, the company has expanded tenfold throughout the years. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, they opened stores outside Europe, namely in Hong Kong and Tokyo. In 2007, stores opened in Paris and Singapore. Today, the brand is carried by over 500 retailers worldwide, an impressive feat for a brand that chooses not to advertise and has remained independent all these years.

In an industry where people have struggled to find their own identities, Dries Van Noten stands proud as one of those designers and labels who has achieved just that. It’s also one of the rare bands that have not fallen into the despairs of the industry’s business side, having as much fashion design value as a house can in what has become a very commercialized industry.

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