|Courtesy of FIAF|
``I’m more inspired by things which I don’t like…. Nothing is so boring as something beautiful. I prefer ugly things, which are surprising… You force yourself to ask yourself questions. ”
Those of you who follow me on twitter heard my dilemma; whatever do you wear to an evening with Sir Dries Van Noten? Dries Van Noten is a designer I admire for his aesthetic, as well as the manner in which he runs his business. I’m very methodical when it comes to shopping, so it’s rare that I regret leaving an item behind in the store. The few exceptions have been Dries Van Noten pieces (a pair of shorts of all things), that I continually dream about.
I’m drawn to the subtlety that’s inherent in Dries Van Noten’s designs. His aesthetic is informed by color, fabric, print and texture, but done in such a subtle and composed way that’s unique. It was a pleasure to attend the French Institute Alliance Francaise’s third and final Fashion Talk of 2012 with Mr. Noten a few weeks ago. It was such an honor to hear the designer, who shuns promotional talks, speak so candidly about his process.
It has often been asked if Mr. Noten is shy. He is not. In an hour he touched on so many facets of the complicated fashion industry with great generosity. Mr. Noten is unassuming, quiet and orderly. Much like his beautiful garden in Lier, Belgium. After each of Pamela Goblin’s questions, Mr. Noten would take the time to carefully consider what was being asked and to reply in a precise, articulate manner. My friend and I left that evening feeling as though, Mr. Noten had said everything he could possibly say, which is quite a feat for someone whose work truly speaks for itself.
When asked about his approach to fashion, he mentioned that the only way to make the clothes he wanted to make was to start his own company. Dries Van Noten reaffirmed his contentment as an independent designer by stating “I like my independence, the possibility that I can do whatever I want. My design style is a natural thing. You put colors together. It’s me asking myself a lot of questions.” He repeatedly extolled the value of being able to follow his own rhythm as a designer. For Mr. Noten, this means foregoing pre-collections (the complexities of his fabric creations and the time involved renders this impossible). It also means prioritizing designing clothing over more lucrative accessories. It’s clear that he relishes being able to grow at his own pace.
|Dries Van Noten's charming garden in Lier Via Vogue. Scans by me.|
It was invaluable to hear about Mr. Noten’s unique business approach. He stated that when designing, "It’s a story. It’s not a person. I don’t have a muse. [Then] you have to choose a model. Then people will say, that is the only kind of person to wear the clothes and that is not for me.” There was a sheer joy when Mr. Noten spoke of the possibilities of playing with color, considering fabrics and choosing which style of garment to work with. I really appreciate the careful way that Dries Van Noten balances feminine and masculine textures, patterns, colors and shapes. It was beautiful to see his desire to create new volumes and proportions for every body type each season. This shouldn’t be a novelty, but sadly many designers refuse to acknowledge this.
Mr. Noten cited that the greatest compliment as a designer was having people wear his clothes. When you don’t advertise, people purchase the clothes for the clothes, and not for the brand, which is what Mr. Noten strives for. As both Creative Director and CEO of the brand, I enjoyed hearing his position on fashion shows. “Fashion shows are really my way of communication. I don’t go on Twitter. I don’t go to parties. I don’t often do fashion talks like this. So for me, it’s really what I want to communicate. It’s the end of the story… So the venue, the light, the location, the sound, the hair, the makeup, all makes it for me. You have ten minutes to explain to your audience what you are doing, what you want to tell. So everything has to be perfect.” As you know, I find such inspiration in considering all of the factors that go into a good fashion show.
|The perfect trench to wear when tending to that beautiful garden Via FirstView|
I also loved hearing how special and personal the Paris store is to him. In keeping with the organic manner in which he runs his business, he was searching for a showroom, when he fell in love with the space. The Paris and Hong Kong boutiques are two of my favorite retail spaces- such beautiful environments that are truly expressive of the brand. Although what stood out most from the evening was the wonderful advice and reminder to "take your time..."