MOST CELEBRATED FOR HIS MIX OF POP AND CLASSISIM, DRIES VAN NOTEN’S HOMETOWN OF ANTWERP REVERS THE SUCCESS LED BY AN ACCLAIMED CREW OF DESIGNERS THAT ROSE FROM THE “ANTWERP SIX”.
From lush jacquard fabrics to distinct floral and Op Art prints, Dries Van Noten combines inspiration like a second instinct. Reinterpreting culture is his refined touch and there are no limitations to the combinations that seep through his influences from Flemish Primitives paintings to punk. Marrying the romantic with utmost modern, he has the inkling to combine Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with Giuseppe Penone sculptural silhouettes, John Everett Millais’ painting of Ophelia and Ryan McGinley prints. “Luxe Bohemia” is his spell and it is easy to feel the fantastic storylines that lay the dreamscapes for Dries Van Noten’s gilded nomads.
TAILOR FIT AESTHETICS
Born in Antwerp, designer Dries van Noten slid right into the reigns of tailoring. His Grandfather incepted ready-to-wear by turning garments inside out and reworking their patterns. His father was a retail business man who ran successful high end boutiques which sold Emmanuel Ungaro, Salvatore Ferragamo and Ermenegildo Zegna. It was his family influence that led Dries to learn the ins and outs of the fashion industry and he grew a sharp sense for the business side through his travels to trade fairs and shows in Milan, Düsseldorf and Paris. At 18 he found out design was his love and after studying fashion design at the Royal Academy in Antwerp, he began to freelance for stores such as Barneys New York, Whistles London and Pauw in Amsterdam before finding the spaces to launch his own brand.
Boutique spaces have laid a visceral ground for Dries Van Noten’s brand development. His first 1986 Antwerp boutique was a tiny shop front that made its physical print through his women’s and men’s collections that were cut with the same fabric. Showrooms and boutiques in Paris and Milan followed suit and it was through his entirely self-funded growth that led a modest but solid start for the promising talent. Meager funds turned to be a blessing in disguise and while most 90s brands were lining the glossies with ads, Dries Van Noten took the other route and chose to stay away from advertising, a philosophy which the brand still upholds. It was, in turn, one of the surest decisions that amounted to an accelerated appeal and steady expansion of standalone boutiques in Singapore, Kuwait, Qatar, Dubai, Honk Hong and Tokyo. His retail homes, just like his customers graze global corners.
Business edges sharp and aptly tuned to current culture, zeitgeist holds a relevant place in Dries Van Noten’s world. His 90s grunge collection was a defining moment of the era and he caught it in the furry. Keeping it current and designing for what he spiritedly refers to as “the new generation”, there is no predictability to his work. Prints, contrasting patterns, exquisite embellishments and textile play like jacquard shoes for his Fall 2015 collection, The designer allows elements to clash as he explores the cross links between art and culture.
AGAINST THE GRAIN
His grassroots beginning saw him selling his collection out of a truck outside of London Fashion Week in 1986. Going against the grain plays a part in Dries Van Noten’s glamour and he does away with the belief that there is a distinction between high and low art akin to the way in which he combined punk safety pins with the high refinement of Dior’s 40s and 50s silhouettes. Dries Van Noten avoids the system and gives into the parallel and cross waves that infiltrate his world, never forgetting the long lost loves of rebellious romanticism among the nomadic luxury of modern day jetset.
Dries van Noten’s designs are feminine, strong and playfully colourful. Loyal Bohemia is fluent throughout the label’s language. He steers clear of elitism and guides a general sense of rebelliousness throughout his collection, which are deeply influenced by any cultural vein including classical Flemish paintings to punk rock.
The designer’s use of graphic floral prints and Op Art patterns take on a distinctly Dries Van Noten character. The brand does not advertise and the expansive success has been spun from the designer’s wholly self-nurtured and self-financed growth.
Dries Van Noten is awarded the prestigious CFDA Designer of the Year Award in 2008.
In 2009 he was awarded the prize for Artistry of Fashion by the Couture Council of the Museum at FIT.
He was invited to oversee the prestigious “Hyeres Festival International de Mode et de Photographie” in France in May 2010.
Dries’ grandfather introduced the concept of ready-to-wear by turning clothing inside out and reworking the patterns. In 1970, Dries’ father opened an upscale store in Antwerp which sold collections by Zegna, Ungaro and Ferragamo.
Dries begins to freelance and his designs instantly makes their way into high end stores such as Barneys New York, Whistles London and Pauw in Amsterdam. He opens his first tiny boutique in Antwerp selling men’s and women’s wear.
Dries leaves his boutique space and relocates into a department store housed by his great grandfather’s competitor and keeps the building’s original commercial name, ‘Het Modepaleis’.
Picking up fast notoriety, Dries opens his first showroom and press office in the Marais, Paris. A second showroom opening follows in Milan.
Dries van Noten centralizes his company in an enormous industrial warehouse overlooking Antwerp. The new space brings together all avenues of the business: marketing, production, accounting, distribution, design and a showroom space. In 2007 a boutique is opened in Paris, and 2009 in Tokyo.
Selfridges London creates an astounding exhibition celebrating the masters of fashion shown as a bespoke installation and fashion film for a view into each master’s world. Dries Van Noten is selected among the roster to stage a phenomenal exhibition under the title “Master of the Eclectic”.
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