Born in Antwerp in 1958, Dries Van Noten is the third generation in a family of tailors. At the age of 18, Dries entered the fashion design course of Antwerp’s Royal Academy. On graduating, he began to freelance as a consultant designer before starting his own collection of menswear in 1986. Since its beginnings Dries Van Noten has presented collections for women and men for Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter each year. He celebrated his 50th fashion show in 2004 and 100th fashion show in 2017.
In June 2008, the Council of Fashion Designers of America honoured Dries Van Noten with its International
Designer of the Year Award. 2014 began with the grand opening of Dries Van Noten, “Inspirations”, a first
ever exhibition featuring his designs and influences at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Another
configuration of the exhibit moved to Antwerp in 2015. In July France decorated Dries Van Noten with the
honour of ‘Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.’ In October 2016, Dries Van Noten wins the Culture
Award from The Province of Antwerp for his contribution to Culture.
In June 2018 Puig entered the capital structure of Dries Van Noten as majority owner. The designer remains, over the long term, a significant minority shareholder and continues his role as chief creative officer and chairman of the board.
2019 saw Mr Van Noten collaborate with world renowned fashion designer Mr Christian Lacroix on his
collection for Women, Spring/Summer 2020. In June 2020, and September 2021, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has again nominated Dries Van Noten for its International Designer of the Year Award.
Q&A with dries van noten
When did you know that designing clothes was your path & passion?
There was a certain logic to my choice as my family had been involved in fashion and the garment business for generations. My father created one of Belgium’s most innovative retailers of ‘Pret-a-Porter’ and my grandfather was a tailor. I inherited my love of garment making, its traditions and rituals, from these men and my mother. Family immersed me in the craft and skill of fabrics, impassioned me with the power of flair and style for women and men that fired my quest to explore and question the subjectivity of “beauty” and the role it would play in my life. My family was very supportive and encouraged me to continue its fashion tradition. I regularly accompanied my parents to Paris and Milan on their many buying trips for collections. Though they had imagined I might take over the retail business, that I was passionate to become a fashion designer came as a great surprise to them.
What is your design signature?
I see a garment as a singular item of excellence that is part of a larger story told, firstly, within a designer’s vision for a collection and ultimately as part of the final wearer’s expression of their style through their wardrobe. My joy is to create a garment that fuses and balances beauty, craft and function, a garment that can perform well and continue in time to become part of life’s story. I enjoy juggling with colours, textures and light in a way that evokes rather than provokes.
Where do you come up with your best ideas?
The spark of inspiration for the narrative of a collection rarely ever comes in the same way. The initial idea can sometimes come quickly and remain constant throughout the design process… occur on a walk in my garden, encountering a painting or the life and work of an artist. It can be something rarefied or ordinary, for example, suddenly looking at something that has surrounded me every day and seeing it in a different way that inspires. It can be a photograph in a book or a magazine, a re-read passage in a loved book, a conversation with friends or my design team or a piece of music. For other collections the story is more of a journey, deliberate, considered, and evolves through time and the design process. Anything can be that spark that ignites the creative process. What I have learned is that one recognises the spark when it happens, it may not be too planned, be ‘of its time’ and is more emotional than cerebral.
Is there a difference between style and fashion?
Of course, style comes from within..
What colour or fabric would you never use?
None actually! Often, challenging myself to work with colours, fabrics, or forms that I have disliked and bringing them into a collection can be an important aspect of the creative process.
What is beauty?
The idea of beauty is supremely subjective and very personal. Time also plays a role when our view on what is beautiful to us evolves. A flower, a building or a garment can be a thing of wonder for one while leaving another completely indifferent. What was beautiful to us even recently may be ugly today. Luckily, all designers have their own eye on and language of beauty.
What is ugliness?
It resonates in the same way as beauty for me. It is exciting when the formerly ugly becomes beautiful.
Dries Van Noten graduates from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp
Dries Van Noten starts his first own collection of menswear after working as a freelance consultant designer
Flagship store opens in Antwerp, Belgium
Womenswear store opens at Quai Malaquais, Paris, France
Dries Van Noten wins International Designer of the Year at CFDA Awards
Dries Van Noten is sacred 'Royal Designer for Industry' from the RSA Trustee Board in London
Flagship store opens in Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan
Menswear store opens at Quai Malaquais, Paris, France
Dries Van Noten is inducted to the Galerie Des Eminents By the Flemish Chamber Of Commerce (Voka)
Dries van Noten is gifted a gold medal by The Flemish Royal Academy of Belgium
Dries Van Noten is honored with the Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion by the Couture Council of the Museum at FIT In New York
Dries Van Noten is invited to preside over the 25th edition of the Festival International De Mode et De Photographie of Hyères, France
Olfactory portrait by Frederic Malle with the Nose Bruno Jonanovic
Exhibition at the Musée Des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, France and publication of the book accompanying the exhibition
Dries Van Noten is decorated by Jack Lang of the medal
Store opens in Osaka, Japan
Wins Culture Award from the Province of Antwerp
'Dries' documentary by Reiner Holzemer, an intimate portrait into the life, mind and creative heart the designer
Publication of 'Dries Van Noten 1-100', a book in two volumes depicting and documenting his first 100 collections and fashion shows
In recognition of his career as fashion designer and his contribution to the cultural life of his native land
DVN enters in partnership with Puig as Major Stakeholders
Collaboration with Mr Christian Lacroix
Nominated by the CFDA for International Designer of The Year Award
Store opens in Shanghai, China
Flagship store opens in Los Angeles, USA, the first Dries Van Noten store in the United States of America