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5 key moments in the career of Dries Van Noten

From 1994 to the present day

5 key moments in the career of Dries Van Noten  From 1994 to the present day

The announcement came yesterday and resonated like an echo: Dries Van Noten bids farewell and retires after one last show scheduled during the upcoming Paris Fashion Week in June. Coming from the third generation of a Belgian tailoring family, both of Van Noten's parents owning their own boutiques, the world of fashion was a natural fit for the young Van Noten. Graduating from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 1980, Van Noten also made a name for himself as one of the Antwerp Six in the 1980s. Alongside renowned designers such as Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, Marina Yee, Dirk Van Saene, and Dirk Bikkembergs, all graduates of the same school, Van Noten helped shape the reputation of the Antwerp school. Their collective journey, marked by transporting their collections to London in 1986, catalyzed Belgium's rise onto the global fashion stage. Renowned for his distinctive aesthetic and innovative approach, the designer has always charted his own course. He never buys advertising pages in magazines, doesn't launch advertising campaigns, and doesn't sign perfume licenses, despite lucrative offers from cosmetics giants. Yet, nearly forty years after its inception, his brand continues to thrive, with remarkable collections and an ability to evolve with the times.

His first womenswear show in 1994

5 key moments in the career of Dries Van Noten  From 1994 to the present day | Image 492876

After establishing his reputation with acclaimed menswear collections noted for their subtle blend of tradition and avant-garde, Van Noten expanded his influence into women's fashion. In a stroke of genius, the designer transformed a room at the George V into a dreamlike landscape, filled with mattresses and cushions scattered on the floor, inviting spectators to recline and immerse themselves in the magic of the moment. This approach provided guests with an unprecedented closeness to the collection. Behind the glamour of this event, however, was a less shiny reality: the tight budget. This constraint forced Van Noten to deploy boundless ingenuity. This runway show marked the beginning of his long and illustrious career in women's fashion, which will continue to inspire and influence future generations of creators and fashionistas.


The set design of the Spring-Summer 2005 runway show

5 key moments in the career of Dries Van Noten  From 1994 to the present day | Image 492877

It's difficult to pinpoint a single runway show as the pinnacle in terms of set design for Dries Van Noten, as throughout his career, he orchestrated many impressive presentations, each endowed with its unique aesthetic and singular creative vision. Nonetheless, some runway shows have truly left a mark thanks to their innovative set design and spectacular staging. Among these, the Spring-Summer 2005 runway show stands out in particular. To celebrate his fiftieth runway show, the designer orchestrated a gala dinner gathering five hundred guests. Like a movie set, a long table was set under a hundred and thirty sparkling crystal chandeliers, creating an atmosphere of magic and grandeur. Every detail was meticulously orchestrated, reflecting Van Noten's absolute commitment to perfection. Despite the grandeur of the event, the designer insisted on presenting attentions to his guests: at the end of the dinner, they were offered a book recounting the fifty previous collections, adorned with a polaroid of the chandelier in front of their seat.

"Dries" by Reneir Holzmeler in 2017

Fashion documentaries have become commonplace, but the one on the Belgian designer stands out from the crowd. For the first time, the fashion designer allowed a filmmaker to accompany him in his creative process and family life. For an entire year, Reiner Holzemer documented the precise steps Dries took to conceive four collections, the rich fabrics, embroideries, and prints exclusive to his creations. This film offers a glimpse into the life, mind, and creative genius of a fashion master who, for decades, has remained independent in an ever-evolving industry. Not only does it show how Van Noten built his career on his own terms, working on the fringes of fashion, but it also allows us to learn more about this rather discreet icon, revealing his personality with a touch of humor.


His 100th runway show in 2017

At a time when many independent designers struggle to survive without the support of a luxury conglomerate or investment fund, Dries Van Noten continues to thrive on his own terms, creating fashion highlights to mark milestones in his career. His hundredth runway show is a case in point. The event brought together a host of runway legends, lighting up the darkened Marcel Cerdan boxing arena in Bercy and adding a splash of color to Paris. With a lineup of supermodels, the runway show showcased a selection of the best pieces from Dries Van Noten's universe. And who better than timeless beauties like Carolyn Murphy, Alek Wek, Liya Kebede, or Amber Valletta to celebrate the 100th runway show of a creator whose longevity is matched only by his talent?