Dries van Noten: Brand, history & luxury fashion – from dresses to coats

Dries van Noten – Like Raf Simons, Loewe and Helmut Lang, Dries van Noten is one of the brands that enjoy a special status in the fashion industry. Van Noten’s collections are characterized by the use of fabrics – such as velvet and satin – and the striking patterns of his designs, which are often inspired by Eastern culture. The Belgian designer draws inspiration from many things, including nature, Asia, art, music and even dreams. While he often uses aspects of different cultures, he is careful to show respect as certain symbols are religious or traditional in nature. In the following post you will learn more about the history and different collection of Dries van Noten. If you feel like exploring other designers and luxury brands, check out our brand guide.

Dries Van Noten: The history of the brand

Born in Antwerp in 1958, Dries Van Noten is the third generation of a family of tailors. At the age of 18, Dries Van Noten began studying fashion design at the Royal Academy in Antwerp. After graduating, he began working as a freelance designer before launching his own menswear collection in 1986. The response was almost immediately positive and he received commissions from prestigious clients such as Barneys New York, Pauw in Amsterdam and Whistles in London. In September of that year, Dries opened a tiny eponymous boutique in Antwerp’s Galeriepassage before moving in 1989 to “Het Modepalais,” a five-story former department store in the Nationalestraat that still stands today. The restoration of the historic building retained many of the original furnishings, including the name.

Success in spite of unknown

Some may say that the name Van Noten is not very well known compared to other fashion labels like Versace or Armani. But Van Noten has deliberately chosen to avoid this notoriety; advertising is not considered a priority by the company. Even though he is not very well known to the general public, Van Noten has been repeatedly awarded for his work. He won the CFDA International Designer of the Year Award in 2008 and was named among the BoF 500 in 2015 – according to The Business of Fashion, Dries Van Noten is one of the 500 most influential people in the fashion industry, along with fellow Belgians Raf Simons and Walter Van Beirendonck. 2015 was also the year Van Noten was awarded an Order of Arts and Letters by Jack Lang, a former French minister.

Here you can see a picture of the designer Dries van Noten:

Dries’ inspiration and influences

Van Noten’s collections are characterized by the use of fabrics – such as velvet and satin – and the striking patterns of his designs, which are often inspired by Eastern culture. The Belgian designer draws inspiration from many things, including nature, Asia, art, music and even dreams. While he often uses aspects of different cultures, he is careful to show respect as certain symbols are religious or traditional in nature. His last exhibition, titled ‘Inspirations’, was held in 2015 at the Fashion Museum in Antwerp, in collaboration with the Museum Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Van Noten had already shown this exhibition in Paris the year before. As the title suggests, visitors were able to admire objects and artworks that inspired Van Noten’s collections and some of his designs. In the end, ‘Inspirations’ registered 95,000 visitors, which was a record for the museum.

Dries van Notens’ approach

His men’s and women’s collections are presented twice a year in Paris. Van Noten’s atelier remains anchored in his hometown of Antwerp, where he is supported by a team of many nationalities. For Dries Van Noten, finding his own voice and path is a state of mind, an ethos. Instead of relying on traditional advertising, for example, he has chosen to rely on the steady, natural growth that comes from word of mouth. And he steadfastly refuses to clutter his calendar with pre-collection shows.

A look from the women’s fall collection of 2016:

Van Noten is passionately focused on creating distinctive, wearable clothing for a loyal clientele who appreciate the designer’s refined sensibility. His exceptional work has also been recognized by the professional world, including the International Designer of the Year award and an important inspirational exhibition at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris and MoMu in Antwerp.

Dries van Noten Today

After three decades at the helm of his successful independent house, Van Noten decided to seek a strong, strategic partner to guide his company’s next steps. In June 2018, Puig joined Dries Van Noten’s capital structure as majority owner. The designer remains a significant long-term minority shareholder and retains his role as Chief Creative Officer and Chairman of the Board. As it embarks on its joint journey with Puig, Van Noten will benefit from the support and vision of an industry leader. For Puig, the partnership forcefully confirms the company’s commitment to its fashion business.

A brief overview:

  • Fashion studies at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp
  • First fashion collection 1986
  • Fashion Designer of the Year’ in 2008
  • 2015 one of the 500 most influential fashion designers
  • First exhibit at the Fashion Museum in Antwerp
  • Puig takes majority ownership of the brand
  • Van Noten retains role as creative director

Dries van Notens’ trademark style & brilliance

Van Noten’s garments are a rebellious mix of mismatched styles, fabrics and textures. The color palettes are risky and unexpected. Style elements from different continents, cultures and time periods flow into each other. For example, one season’s collection played with masculine and feminine notions by designing men’s sportswear in silk and taffeta, while another collection combined silk duchesse skirts for women with oversized sweatshirts. He also loves layering fabrics and presenting ethnic themes in surprising ways.

A look from the 2013 women’s collection:

Dries van Noten self portrait

Van Noten has kept a low profile and maintained his creative independence by not advertising and financing his business himself. Without corporate support, he can indulge in his unique creative vision, which has made him very influential in the fashion industry.

Van Noten is not distracted by expanding into haute couture, an extensive accessories collection or fragrances. Instead, he keeps his company at a manageable size and enjoys his dual role as creative director and chief executive officer. His independence also allows Van Noten to enjoy the life he has built for himself. He spends his free time gardening in his 18th-century castle near Antwerp and following music, movies, politics and art, which he insists enrich both his creative skills and his life.

Dries van Noten Collections: Relevance & Modernity

Of course, Dries Van Noten is a designer that many women turn to in order to survive the cold light of day. In his collections, he never loses sight of this idea – he never forgets his duties as a dresser. However, his men’s collections also convince every year anew and whirl the world of men’s fashion once.

Dries van Notens’ “Ready-To-Wear” Spring Collection

Colorful, explosive, manic, euphoric…. call it what you will: The vibes in the photos of the Dries Van Noten collection are unmistakably feverish and make you want to get all dressed up.

One of those moments of coming together, long delayed by COVID, is Tomorrowland. “It’s the biggest dance festival in the world, with all the top DJs, and it takes place here in Belgium,” he said. “If you look at the pictures, some people are completely decked out, others are wearing simple clothes, but they have something in common. That was what I wanted to play with in this collection. Visual fireworks!”

Van Noten hits the nail on the head when it comes to the feeling that we’re all sick of being closed off. The desire to go to extremes, fashion’s fantasy revenge on the pandemic, is contagious this season. “We’ve been doing all kinds of crazy experiments – handmade tuxedos, fluffy things, jacquards, silks. Different kinds of sparkles – different sheens, different depths of shimmer. All these things,” he says, laughing.

Here you can see a look from the spring 2022 collection:

The men fall collection

This Dries Van Noten collection, presented in a mesmerizing backdrop between dawn and dusk, was both familiar and new. During a pre-show interview, the designer said that his colorful last season, as well as the introduction of an effective homework strategy for his pattern cutters, created the context for this re-evaluation of archetypal garments through new structures and manufacturing techniques.

To change the feel, garments had to be altered. Shirts were lengthened into dresses, jacket skirts and hooded hems were lengthened, trouser waistbands were raised, and shorts were widened. For example, many jackets were made of the lightest wool possible, lightly padded to give the appearance of structure while providing a sense of looseness and freedom. Similarly, T-shirts were made of two layers with delicate padding inserted between them to create a crisp appearance while still feeling loose. Ultra-lightweight Duchesse cotton was imported as a suit fabric from women’s fashion.

A look from the men’s fall 2021 collection:

Frequently asked questions about Dries von Noten

Here you will find the most frequently asked questions on the Internet.

Who founded Dries van Noten?

Dries Van Noten is a Belgian fashion designer. The fashion company he founded in 1986 bears his name.

Is Dries van Noten independent?

Van Noten’s company was completely self-financed and thus independent until 2018. In mid-2018, Van Noten sold a majority stake in his company to the family-run Spanish perfume and fashion group Puig.

Who designs for Dries van Noten?

Even after his sale of the brand, designer Dries van Noten retains his place as creative director at his brand.

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Here you’ll find brands similar to Dries van Noten.

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The designer Helmut Lang is also a pioneer when it comes to developing his own style. Check out our article on Helmut Lang for more details about the brand and the designer.

Raf Simons / Raf Simons Videos

Raf Simons is also a designer who started his career in Antwerp, Belgium and plays a big role in the fashion scene with his influences. In our Raf Simons articles you will learn everything about the designer’s influences and collections.

Fashion brands: list

Are you excited about Dries van Noten and want to get to know more brands? Then check out our fashion guide here and get to know the top fashion brands in the world. Extravagant haute couture. Sophisticated prêt-à-porter. Fine sportswear and innovative accessories. The world’s most luxurious fashion brands delight millions of people and fashion lovers every year with their exquisite collections. They camp out in front of stores to snag limited edition specials, stand on the streets of Paris during the highly coveted Fashion Week, and sit wide-eyed in front of TVs to watch the latest and hippest runway shows. Here’s the ultimate fashion brand guide.