Dries Van Noten spring—summer 1999.
It is unusual for a designer to be famed for his men’s and women’s collections alike, but Dries Van Noten is just that. His designs take all types of men and women into account. Be they tall or short, plump or slender, they will find something to their liking in his designs. He succeeds in making suits for men who don’t want to wear suits, and dresses for women who don’t like wearing dresses. He seduces them with his choice of fabrics and his tailoring. Fabrics and colours are very important for Dries Van Noten, who grew up in the world of textiles — at the age of sixteen he was already purchasing fabrics for his father’s clothing store. His fabrics are usually dyed and prewashed specially for him. He uses natural materials like silk and wool; he prefers fabric that doesn’t look too new; it should feel soft and look as if it has already been worn, as if the garments has been ‘broken in’. He experiments with textiles: obvious materials are replaced by something more transparent, heavier or lighter. Subtlety lies in the way the fabrics are used, one layer superimposed on another, and the combination of different materials.
A garment’s use may also be switched around: a jacket used as a shirt, and vice versa. The structure of the clothes is rarely emphasized and is subordinate to comfort and elegance. Dries Van Noten excels in the art of marrying opposites — simple with sophisticated, classical with inventive — whilst still ensuring the reputation of certain traditions. He tends to see himself as a tailor.