Dries Van Noten Delivers His Enchantment


Dries Van Noten looked over a patio during a boats tipping and relocating on a H2O in Antwerp’s harbour.

Even with a skinny winter object filtering by a windows on to a stacks of patterned fabrics in a Belgian designer’s studios, it all seemed a prolonged proceed from a magical, hot-coloured conform impulse in Paris final September.

That was when Dries dumbfounded a conform star by personally partnering with Christian Lacroix, sketch on a bequest of a former conform designer, whose prophesy was dripping in a fever of a South of France, in contrariety to a some-more practical Belgian designer.

The Dries Van Noten Spring/Summer 2020 show, combined with Christian Lacroix, was presented during a Opéra Bastille during Paris Fashion Week in Sep 2019

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There were many things to speak about with Dries on his home territory. we wanted generally to learn some-more about his new switch to prejudiced tenure by Puig, after Dries, now 61, sole a infancy interest to a Spanish-based, family-owned company, famous for a incense and beauty products.

But we had to start a review with that enchanting – and astonishing – collaboration. What had desirous this many doubtful conform matrimony with Lacroix?

“Fashion has to simulate what is function in a world, though that isn’t removing most nicer, and we have to give people a pill – a kind of cure,” Dries explained. “The proceed we dress can make we stronger; we can demonstrate things and find fun in life even when a star is grim. So we explored that kind of merriment and fun, sauce adult with ruffles and organza ribbons. That was a story we wanted to tell when we saw cinema from couture collections by Lacroix. But we had to ask, ‘Is it inspiring? Is it a right moment? Did it age well? Is it relevant? Are there engaging things to take from it?’ That’s a fun partial of my job.”

This week, a initial of a Dries Van Noten Spring/Summer 2020 collection goes on sale – during a same time that a engineer is display his Autumn/Winter 2020 menswear collection in Paris.

The story of a Lacroix partnership started with a Belgian engineer endeavour endless investigate before contacting Lacroix himself. “We began a plan though him, to see how distant it could go,” Dries said. “I didn’t wish it to turn some arrange of homage. It had to be something genuine that could make anxiety to his collections – polka dots, chronological jacquards, a things that he used a lot – though still gripping it a Dries Van Noten collection, so it doesn’t turn a relic, a loyalty or a knock-off. But there was also my identity, my fun, my vision.”

Dries pronounced he was “too star struck” to proceed Lacroix directly, so he contacted him digitally. The respond was “Yes!” And a astonishing melding of purify white trousers with antique prints, flowers and feathers, puffs of fabric kaleidoscopic with Lacroix’s matchless painterly colours, was one of those memorable “fashion moments”.

Together a designers looked during a New Romantic era, that individualist and decorated travel character that came after Punk in a early Eighties. Lacroix himself, after a decade of swapping conform for ballet and entertainment costumes, was fascinated by this drop into a Dries universe.

“Of march we adore his star unequivocally most and we am an suitor of his blending and relating colours and printing. we was infrequently unequivocally sceptical of his being means to do this with such subtlety,” Lacroix admitted. “I was extraordinary and certain that we would have these territories in common.”

The Dries Van Noten Spring/Summer 2020 collection, in partnership with Christian Lacroix

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The dual artistic designers had a tip assembly during a Paris domicile of Puig on a Champs Elysées, that was pounded in a gilets jaunes (“yellow vest”) riots. But a dual creatives carried on.

“Dries showed me a mood residence and we pronounced to myself, ‘They don’t need me!’” Lacroix said. “They already had all – a 15th century, a tiger print, and Dries had this pleasing suspicion with a black ribbons on white. we was overwhelmed by his difficult proceed and a proceed he voiced it on a mood board. It was chemistry during initial sight.”

The Christian Lacroix x Dries Van Noten Spring/Summer 2020 collection overwhelmed on a Eighties’ crossover between Punk and a New Romantics

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The Antwerp Atelier

I sat down with Dries in Antwerp, on a prolonged list in front of a collection of men’s sweaters in splendid colours. we asked how it had been probable to keep a tip of Lacroix’s appearance in a collection.

“Christian came once a month, so he was here 6 or 7 times to work on a collection,” Dries explained. “It was equally sensitive when he wasn’t here since of a work in a atelier for a settlement makers or elaboration people. We would all demeanour during a settlement for a stormy dress and say, ‘Maybe it should turn a tiny bigger, with some-more ribbons, some-more fabrics, some-more everything’ – generally with a bold, glossy and ardent colours.”

Keeping a tip was a difficult process, with buyers who came before a uncover being asked to pointer an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). In a gossipy conform world, a fact it remained a warn seems miraculous.

“The collection is utterly extended though it is still unequivocally Dries,” a engineer said. “It’s not that there are usually skirts with 25 metres of fabric and another 15 of ribbons. But we do embody pleasing replicas of 18th-century jacquards woven by palm in Lyon and afterwards sent to India for 300 hours of embroidery. On a other hand, we scanned a same jacquards and printed them on T-shirts, that we sell during 150 Euros. So there is a balance.”

Lacroix certified to some shaken moments. “At one indicate we was unequivocally fearful when Dries showed me some glossy fuchsia satin or a bullfighter jacket. ‘No Dries, no!’” a French engineer remembered saying. “I was fearful of a caricature, though a proceed he did it during a finish was such an experience. we done a friend. We are most closer than we expected!”

Christian Lacroix x Dries Van Noten Spring/Summer 2020

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Were there any stumbles? “When Dries says, ‘Mmm… Pourquois pas – Why not? – that means no!,” Lacroix recalled.

Business Partners and Creative Collaborators

In a Dries Van Noten waterside building in Antwerp, a salon was filled with destiny collections, while some storage areas suggested past inspirations. The engineer told me that roughly his whole business was in offered clothes, not accessories – something of a consternation in a stream conform industry, that still relies so most on shoes and handbags.

I left a studio for a city centre, with a Medieval and Renaissance buildings, a diamond-cutting area, and a commanding Dries Van Noten dilemma boutique. There, we saw a few of a new Lacroix designs among a charming patterned pieces from a Autumn/Winter 2019-2020 collection.

I wondered if part-ownership by Puig, that already has Carolina Herrera, Jean Paul Gaultier and Paco Rabanne on a “prestige” list, would change a Dries prophesy or structure.

Puig seems to be relocating during a snail’s gait as it creeps towards opening stores “in New York and Shanghai”, as one executive suggested, while José Manuel Albesa, President of Brands, Markets Operations, insisted that a report about Dries opening in Manhattan’s Chinatown was not accurate.

The bizarre proclamation in Barcelona in 2018 settled that Puig would turn a infancy and Dries a minority shareholder, though that he would continue as Chief Creative Officer and Chairman of a Board. The association is a third-generation family-owned conform and incense business with projects in some-more than 150 countries, so it competence be approaching to be a force of energy.

The engineer himself does not consider that a Puig gait is leisurely. “It’s relocating forward, it’s not being slow,” Dries pronounced of a attribute with Puig. “You can demeanour during it from a certain or disastrous angle. we consider it is too easy for a conform association to emanate buzz, to make a lot of noise, to open doors, to launch other elements such as pre-collections. Especially now, in a time of a Internet and amicable media, hum is combined fast – though it is not something that interests me. we wish something with a unequivocally sound foundation. Then, when a day comes when we contend we am going to delayed down, a subsequent group will be here, prepared to do things.“

“In this building we have 120-130 people, and afterwards we have Paris and other places,” Dries continued. “We have manufacturers and embroiderers in India, and when we realised that, we suspicion about how we could see a future. We have a DNA that is clever adequate that when we stop, maybe there is continuation. We started to demeanour around for a probable partner to make us grow from tiny to large to give us structure to do e-commerce or go to China, that for us is a pure market.”

“I know unequivocally clearly where we wish to go, and as we have time and Puig has time, it’s a good thing.”

I asked Dries either he believed in his heart that day would come? “I consider so,” he said. “I don’t know when. we still adore my pursuit and there are some-more days that we unequivocally wish to go to a bureau than we wish to stay home.”

A Rural Retreat

By a evening, we had changed to Dries’ heartland – a large nation home outward Antwerp that he shares with his partner Patrick Vangheluwe and new dog, Scott, to reinstate a dear over hound. Even in mid-winter, a residence seemed to be filled with greenery, and a eminent interior, with a large paintings and ancestral furniture, felt as if it had always been only like that; while in a garden, a swelling trees were maybe always that high and a tangles of winter flowers always about to detonate into bud.

I asked Dries, who was brought adult during a Jesuit school, if he felt unequivocally most grounded in Antwerp, and what that meant to him and his work.

“Antwerp has always been a crossroads for people of opposite religions and influences,” a engineer said, referring to a city not so most as a centre of “the Low Countries”, though as “the collateral of a kings of Burgundy”.

“You have a whole Protestant/Calvinist side from Holland,“ Dries said, “But this atmosphere never crossed a limit with Antwerp. It’s always enjoyed a good life.”

Christian Lacroix x Dries Van Noten Spring/Summer 2020

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I had formerly asked Dries what he felt he had gained from a astonishing change of Lacroix. “For me, it was not bizarre to work with somebody else,” Dries said. “On a contrary, it was liberating, since Christian pushed us to forget all a difference like ‘relevant’, ‘contemporary’, ‘modern’, ‘fashionable’. All those things that didn’t matter.”

So will there be a post-marriage honeymoon between this conform couple? Neither engineer envisages a re-run of a Spring/Summer 2020 shows and Lacroix has returned to conceptualizing for a stage.

But like all moments of enchantment, a doubtful partnership has left a trace of magic.

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