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Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Noten’s culturally diverse style has made him one of the most successful of the ‘Antwerp Six’ designers who arrived at the London collections back in March 1986. His signature full skirts, soft jackets and scarves are embroidered or beaded using the traditional folkloric techniques of India, Morocco or Eastern Europe – whichever far-flung culture has caught his attention that season.

Born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1958 to a family of fashion retailers and tailors, Van Noten enrolled at the city’s Royal Academy in 1975; to support his studies, he worked both as a freelance designer for various commercial fashion companies and as a buyer for his father’s boutiques. Following the legendary group show in London, Van Noten sold a small selection of men’s shirts to Barneys in New York and Whistles in London; these stores then requested that he make smaller sizes, for women. In the same year, Van Noten opened his own tiny shop in Antwerp, subsequently replaced by the larger Het Modepaleis in 1989.

In 1991, he showed his menswear collection in Paris for the first time; a womenswear line followed in 1993. Van Noten is perhaps the most accessible of the Belgian designers, but his theory of fashion is far from conventional. He prefers to design collections ‘item by item’, offering his clients a sense of individuality, rather than slavishly creating a collection around one silhouette or a single theme.

In 2004 he celebrated his fiftieth fashion show with a dinner in Paris where models walked along dining tables wearing his spring/summer 2005 collection; the anniversary was also marked with the publication of a book, Dries Van Noten 01-50. He now has three stores and around 500 outlets worldwide, and continues to live and work in his hometown of Antwerp.

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