Learn about the life, success and style of Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten.
His culturally diverse style has made Dries Van Noten one of the most successful designers to come out of Belgium. Born in Antwerp to a family of tailors, Van Noten enrolled at the city’s prestigious fashion academy in 1977. He graduated and began his career when he launched his own label and presented his first men’s wear collection in London as part of the Antwerp 6th Collective. As his name began to grow so too the demand for his product. His debut collection of men’s shirts was bought by Barney’s in New York, a store that still stocks his merchandise now. In 1992, the designer showed his men’s wear collection in Paris. His women’s wear line followed a year later. Van Noten’s designs continue to win him a notable following among fashion pundits and his 1994 collection show shabby masculine jackets, long wrap skirts and rumpled bathrobe coats in drab black, brown or gray. Van Noten is perhaps the most accessible Belgian designer but his theory of fashion is far from conventional. He prefers to design collections item by item offering his clients a sense of individuality rather than slavishly creating a collection around one silhouette. Despite his enormous success, Van Noten continues to live and work in his hometown. The edgy design on Mary’s rustic coated cotton coats with richly patterned kimono silk use and wool caftans with gold embroidered scarf. The Dries Van Noten brand does not offer a whole couture. All of its designs are ready-to-wear and available at retail. “I'm a little naïve but I don’t like the idea of showing things that you don’t sell in a store and that can’t be worn.” Van Noten has said. His collections are both simple and sophisticated and at the same time incorporating classical elements into contemporary designs is one of Van Noten’s trademarks. Known for his imaginative shows Van Noten began the renewed trend for animal print with his men’s wear Winter 2006 collection presented in Paris. Quietly elegant clothes lifted by the prints with the order of the day with the designer wanting to get back to men’s wear basics. Models appeared on the catwalk beneath a canopy of upturned umbrellas, another statement of elegant men’s wear simplicity. The animal graphics appeared on scarves, coat linings, shirts and sweaters. Raincoats and jackets bore the boldest prints but always continued the theme of masculine grace. His 2008 collections were eclectic and inspiring and he drew place for his bohemian collection of richly colored furs and wispy silk dresses in multi-colored patterns. Silk, chiffon, bold color and references to traditional Chinese costume and Peruvian knitting all featured in the folk inspired collection. His designs are loved by fashion risk takers and Australian actress Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman are two in Hollywood known for their red carpet success. Van Noten designed Blanchet’s 2008 Oscars gown especially for the pregnant star and Kidman was seen in his designs to promote her film Australia. For a long time, he’s been focusing his energy on producing some of the industry’s boldest and most innovative works and is now one of the industry’s most celebrated talents. In the cutting edge world of modern fashion design, it seems most designers work harder at building their names into multi-million dollar brands than they do at designing great clothes with the exception of Dries Van Noten.