Dries Van Noten's Fashion Evolution
His designs have been described as 'A beacon of subtlety', 'gentle' and 'pervaded by a sense of restraint'. Never let it be said that Dries Van Noten makes boring clothes, besides, that would make the designer’s 20 year career in fashion with five boutiques plus a presence in more than 500 stores worldwide, and an estimated turnover of £50 million quite mystifying. In fact, without crossing over into conceptual territory, his clothes are modern and inventive rather than classic. His signature themes include; playing with scale leaving his mannequins elegantly cocooned in oversized coats and chunky jumpers, the layering of separates, which, in reality forms the basis of so many women’s wardrobes and best of all – his luxurious ethnic and even floral prints which lift each collection whilst retaining an abstract rather than kitsch aesthetic.
Perhaps his chilly homeland of Belgium has influenced this process. Or, it could be due to his upbringing as the son of two fashion boutique owners, growing up surrounded by the inner workings of the industry. Maybe it was the famous Antwerp Fashion Academy and membership of the ‘Antwerp 6’ (of which only Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester are still promeninent in the industry). Either way, looking back over his story, it seems that choosing not to become a fashion designer may have been a more surprising decision to make than the other way round.
In 2008, the Council of Fashion Designers of America honoured him with the International Award, the same year that he celebrated his 50th birthday. He still lives and works in Antwerp and counts a love of gardening among his hobbies.