dries van noten

Paris Fashion Week AW 2023 Roundup: All the Looks You Need to See Right Now

Paris Fashion Week AW 2023 Roundup: All the Looks You Need to See Right Now

The Row
The Row
This AW 2023, The Row did not disappoint from its usual less-is-more status quo. Although it might not be making all the noise that fashion week promises, its silent take on luxurious and wearable fashion is its prime goal. Think oversized coats, striking black and white silhouettes, tonal scarf wrapping and head-to-toe cashmere. This collection took an extreme to cover-ups, with one exception of a single black ruffled evening dress. Sophistication is at the core of everything the New York-based brand stands for, and it was a clear win this season for the utilitarian dresser.
Paco Rabanne
Paco Rabanne
This was a unique show as it marked the first since the late Paco Rabanne himself passed at the age of 88 years old. Julien Dossena, the Creative Director played homage to the shiny silver cocktail dresses and hard-core party wardrobe looks we have come to know and love from the designers shows. Dossena left a seat empty in the audience that read “Monsieur Rabanne” for his “utopic creative approach” and “radical expression” This show was a true homage to the designer himself and featured five of his original designs at the end. With some pops of color, a hint of surrealism from the printed Dali dresses to a soirée of original designs, Monsieur Rabanne’s memory was left imprinted on the audience this season.
Dries Van Noten
Dries Van Noten
Dries Van Noten showcased their fall collection, and it was an ode to “make do and mend.” A solo drummer was met on a vast stage which emphasized the negative space in the room, a mirror reflected the musician, a thoughtful narrative around the solitude of being an artist. The obvious nod to 90’s grunge perpetuated by floral prints, velvet jackets, oversized coats, undone blazers, and bold gold leather. It was a meeting of practicality and elegance for the woman who thrives in wearable fashion. Denim was showcased as a part of the collection, giving the entire runway a real-world appeal. Structured and belted coats were a win for this collection, presenting the true statement pieces this fall will be your outerwear.
Olivier Rousteing stole the show at Day 2 of PFW, playing the beautiful Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”. The lyrics “When there was doubt/ I ate it up and spit it out/ I faced it all and I stood tall” to Rousteing, were “about following the voice inside your heart and your soul.” The show certainly looked different from anything we have previously seen from the Creative Director, and heavily leaned on classicism, creating a number of modernized timeless looks. His ultimate goal this season was to focus on quality and that message was not lost – sharp cuts, monochromatic looks, supersized bags, shoulders bare and evening dresses that will hang in your wardrobe for a lifetime was the key. All black everything eveningwear dominated the runway as a nod to the 40’s and 50’s in a modernized take, using neoprene and PVC to construct draped looks accompanied with bows and ties. The show was not shy of details, chic and elevated for the woman that dares to wear Balmain. It was clear this season that Rousteing did things his way.
Below, take a look at some of the most striking looks from the first few shows at Paris Fashion Week AW 2023
Dries Van Noten
Dries Van Noten
Dries Van Noten
Dries Van Noten
Dries Van Noten
Dries Van Noten
Paco Rabanne
Paco Rabanne
Paco Rabanne
Paco Rabanne
Paco Rabanne
The Row
The Row

The Top 10 Shows, Plus Top 5 Presentations of the Spring 2023 Collections

The Top 10 Shows, Plus Top 5 Presentations of the Spring 2023 Collections

Serena! Cher! Bella Hadid having a dress spray-painted onto her naked body!
The spring 2023 runway shows and presentations took the fashion pack from a rainy drive-in theater in Brooklyn to a London in royal mourning and on to lots of twins in Milan before wrapping up in Paris with the Eiffel Tower at Saint Laurent and Christian Louboutin and Kanye West’s controversial Yeezy show.

It was indeed a wild season, but also a supercharged one, with so many dazzling shows — and clothes — in every city, it was hard to choose favorites.

But WWD did. The criteria included showmanship, emotional impact, originality, clarity of vision and purpose, relevance, collection execution and all-around awesomeness. 

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Here, WWD’s top 10 shows of the season.

Top 10 Shows

10. Coperni

Coperni RTW Spring 2023

Aïtor Rosas Suñe / WWD

Ahead of their spring 2023 runway show, Coperni designers and married couple Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer told WWD, “It’s an homage to women in general, and the evolution of the morphology and the body through centuries.”

“Technology and fashion have always been uneasy bedfellows, but if anyone can make science sexy, then it’s Coperni designers, who partnered with Manel Torres, the inventor of the Spray-on fabric, for the performance,” WWD’s Joelle Diderich wrote of the brand’s show-closing performance featuring a nearly naked Bella Hadid in “the world’s first live-action spray-on dress.”

“Beyond the wow factor of watching Hadid walk down the runway in her instant dress, the show raised all kinds of fascinating questions about how technology will change the way we clothe ourselves not only in the virtual world, but IRL,” Diderich added.

9. Fendi 25th Anniversary Baguette Collection 


“Fendi is one of a number of European brands energizing New York Fashion Week this season, staging a full-scale runway show and clothing collection inside a packed Hammerstein Ballroom on Friday night in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the iconic Baguette bag, introduced in 1997,” wrote WWD’s Booth Moore of Fendi’s spectacular New York City runway show.

“To further a “New York-y vibe of uptown-downtown,” Jones tapped his lifelong fashion hero and former Louis Vuitton boss Marc Jacobs,” Moore wrote, adding the duo came together to design tribute looks, accompanied by collaborative Baguettes with iconic New York jeweler Tiffany & Co. in Tiffany blue with silver charms and handmade solid sterling silver “resembling a piece of jewelry itself, for the ultimate collector’s item.”

8. Richard Quinn 

Fran Gomez de Villaboa /WWD

“Richard Quinn closed fashion week — with two shows in one. The first was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II, and the second was the spectacle he had originally planned months before her death,” wrote WWD’s Hikmat Mohammed.

“We wanted it to be appropriate for the time, and it’s really historic,” Quinn told WWD, who also credited the queen for the brand’s success since made a rare — if unparalleled — fashion week visit in 2018 to present him with the Award for British Design. “It’s how everyone first knew us, and it will always be a part of our journey and history.”

The designer honored the queen with an extra 22 show-opening looks, which were said to take him and his studio 10 days to create — stitching through the night and while watching the late monarch’s funeral — and shifting his show to the evening following the funeral. The second part of the show featured 26 looks inspired by space and sci-fi — ending with a white bridal lace number.

7. Khaite 

Courtesy of Khaite

“I was going through a very David Lynch ‘Lost Highway,’ ‘Wild at Heart’ phase this summer,” Khaite designer Catherine Holstein told WWD of her collection’s snakeskin, bold zippers, crystal and fringe motifs, and the sinister Southwest and Sin City Las Vegas vibes.

“Certainly there is a bit of a fashion outlaw in Holstein. But her collections don’t really have themes. Rather, they are about the perfect piece on the coolest woman in the room,” Moore wrote of the collection’s femme fatale lineup of perfect-fit ready-to-wear and accessories. “From age 20 to 80, there was something for everyone.”

6. Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Noten RTW Spring 2023

Giovanni Giannoni / WWD

“Bloom therapy. That’s what Dries Van Noten’s spring 2023 collection felt like as it unfolded from an all-black beginning, to a softer middle, then exploded into a beautiful riot of florals that was a master class in mixing prints,” wrote Moore.

“I thought maybe we have to start from black, really the essence, the base of what fashion and clothes are — pleating, volume, structures, then to introduce the same volumes going from stiff and hard to softer, fluid versions. The shapes in fact stayed the same, so it’s the same lexicon,” the designer told WWD during a preview, adding the storyline, or rather three storylines, could be a metaphor for our times. “On the one hand you want protection but on the other hand you want to show your softer side.”

5. Comme des Garçons

Ko Tsuchiya/WWD

“A lamentation for the sorrow in the world today. And a feeling of wanting to stand together” were the two phrases Japanese maverick Rei Kawakubo released to explain the collection, her first shown on a Paris runway since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Kawakubo’s parade of colossal hooded shapes took your mind to “The Handsmaid’s Tale,” of course, and all its sinister implications. In profile, they sometimes resembled the horn-shaped vents on old cruise ships, which made you think about the migrant crisis, too,” reported WWD’s Miles Socha.

Socha labeled the collection “ingenuity on steroids,” with “every exit revealed a never-seen-before shape; sometimes strange, often beautiful, all executed in beautiful brocades, rich lace and other dressy and ceremonial fabrics.”

4. Gucci 

Vanni Bassetti for WWD

“I’m a boy who had two moms, because when I was born, the first seven years of life my mom had an identical twin. So I usually called them mom and mom,” Alessandro Michele said in an interview, speaking of his late mother Eralda and late aunt Giuliana. “It was so beautiful my life with a double love,” he mused to WWD’s Moore of his “Twinsburg” spring 2023 Gucci collection that started with a straight runway show, before a center divider lifted to reveal the same one happening on the other side.

“So I grew up with the idea of the other one who is exactly like you but not you. It’s about humanity. It’s interesting that twins are the concrete vision of the other. It’s very attractive because it’s exactly like you. I did experience this from the outside in a deep way, constantly living with these two women who look the same, dress the same way, had the same hair, the same parfum, and it’s beautiful how in the bad moment they cared about each other. It’s very paradigmatic of our lives.…Especially now we need to care about the other that’s physically another person, but also the other you.”

“It was a gorgeous, and deeply introspective, moment for Michele,” Moore said of the 68 pairs of model look-alikes — all of them actual real-life twins — that came together from opposite sides on the runway, joining hands for a final walk, making a poignant visual statement.

3. Loewe 

Giovanni Giannoni for WWD

“Anderson settled on a few key silhouettes, and both were sensational,” Socha said of Jonathan Anderson’s’ spring Loewe show, which featured tight polo shirts that flared out into brief baby-doll dresses; minidresses with compact panniers, one of the more offbeat trends this season, and shrunken hunting jackets and shearling bombers, either snug or trapeze in shape.

“At the other extreme, supersized sweatshirts and wing-tip tuxedo shirts became soigné sack dresses, arms poking through the bodice and the overly long sleeves dangling free. Long jersey dresses, in literal hourglass shapes cinched with bows, were delicate and divine,” Socha said.

“Most exits consisted of nothing more than a dress and a pair of quirky statement shoes, which have become a Loewe stronghold and one of the most expressive categories in fashion today.”

2. Rick Owens

Giovanni Giannoni for WWD

“I’m saying there are different aesthetic options,” Owens explained backstage to WWD’s Socha, amid eco-tulle skirts so vast they stood on their own. “It’s a protest against conventional judgment. And this is what I have dedicated my life to.”

“His spooky stalactite shoulders were back in a big way, on everything from snug bomber jackets to Barbie pink cocktail dresses,” Socha said. “So were his crumpled volumes, here in gleaming metallic fabrics, looking like car parts crushed elegantly around the body. These continue to challenge the eye, and Owens isn’t relenting.”

“Newer and completely seductive were his languid and revealing gowns with long trains; his giant tulle skirts, and his swishy chiffon trapeze tops, constructed with endless godets,” Socha said.

1. Bottega Veneta

Aitor Rosas Sune/WWD

“While some luxury brands roll out collections and collaborations every five minutes, we haven’t heard much from Blazy’s Bottega since his debut last February. And no wonder: It takes time, and a village of skilled artisans, to conceive and create a collection this good,” WWD’s Socha said of the spring collection.

Backstage, designer Matthieu Blazy was almost apologetic trying to explain how his own jeans, also all leather, had no stitching, and how the fringe on the finale dresses were integrated into the fabric, and then trimmed by hand, Socha reported. “It’s very technical. The project is not easy,” Blazy said to Socha. “Craft — the things we can do at Bottega that no other brand can — this is our identity.

Top 5 Presentations

5. Christian Louboutin 

4. Quira 

3. Brunello Cuccinelli 

2. Loro Piana 

1. Schiaparelli 

Dries Van Noten RTW Spring 2023

Dries Van Noten RTW Spring 2023

Bloom therapy. 

That’s what Dries Van Noten’s spring 2023 collection felt like as it unfolded from an all-black beginning, to a softer middle, then exploded into a beautiful riot of florals that was a master class in mixing prints.

“I thought maybe we have to start from black, really the essence, the base of what fashion and clothes are — pleating, volume, structures, then to introduce the same volumes going from stiff and hard to softer, fluid versions. The shapes in fact stayed the same, so it’s the same lexicon,” the designer said during a preview.

The storyline, or rather three storylines, could be a metaphor for our times, he mused.

“On the one hand you want protection but on the other hand you want to show your softer side.”

So there was all-black cocooning outerwear and sharp tailoring with jeweled buttons and pins, or a gorgeous sleeveless top pin-tucked to hourglass precision over a party decoration of a skirt in textured, layered plisse like only van Noten can make them.

Then he introduced more softness in a stripped back way — oversize tailoring in Sweetart hues with a relaxed, Nineties-looking swagger, color-blocked slip dresses with matte sequined color fields, slouchy shirting with pleated corsages, draped jersey skirts and faded pastel baggy fringed denim.

But it was the flower fest that really brightened the room — and no wonder: van Noten has one of the best color and print senses of any designer working today, a legacy stretching far back that he was happy to celebrate.

He referenced the ‘90s here, too. It’s an era he knows well, having first launched his women’s collection in 1993. But he put his own spin on the transparent second skin layers, snug shirting, baby cardigans, cargo pants and duster coats that are back on the streets now.

He did it by expertly mixing florals of different scales and adding lots of textures with crushed and pleated fabrics, georgette garlands, giant blooms and snaking ruffles. Handcrafted silk cord macrame tunics and overskirts, tubular glass jewelry, curved brass heels and frilled shoes added touches of craft and whimsy.

What does Dries miss from the ’90s?

“I’ve never been nostalgic, but now, with all that’s happening in the world, I get a little bit scared of the future,” he said. “But all my team is young people and they want to be optimistic, they don’t want to hear the past was so much better.”

The runway must roll on.

Dries Van Noten Celebrates the Summer With a Deliciously Vibrant Capsule Collection for Mytheresa.com

Dries Van Noten Celebrates the Summer With a Deliciously Vibrant Capsule Collection for Mytheresa.com

Photo: Courtesy Dries Van Noten
It seems like every time one thinks Dries Van Noten can’t be topped, the Belgian luxury brand ups the stakes in a novel way. The latest news? DVN has now partnered up with luxury online retailer Mytheresa.com to launch a capsule collection—both womenswear and menswear—which drops today.
“I am honored to launch this exclusive collection with Mytheresa, a treasured longstanding partner,” the designer said. “With this collection that amplifies the vivacity and strength of expert traditional crafts from across the globe, we seek to encourage joyful optimism and abandon and spark carefree fun.”
Photo: Courtesy Dries Van Noten
You need only glance through the latest line to agree that Mr Van Noten has hit the nail on the head with this launch. Joyful? Yes it is. Optimistic? Very much. Carefree? In copious amounts. With its jewel color palette, ikat-inspired patterns, and bursting blooms, the special summer capsule line is all about vibrance. While lightweight, flowy fabrics characterize the pieces for women, the menswear creations use similarly cheery prints and hues in camp-collar shirts and laidback trousers, all of which can be freely mixed and matched to create brand new looks. “[This collection] was a natural continuation of the spring/summer 2022 collection, which was very colorful, free, and festive. It was about [the Indian] Holi festival, it was about Burning Man, about really enjoying life, and especially enjoying that freedom we have been craving for such a long time,” he explains. “In addition, it was another opportunity to include that incredible craftsmanship from India,” he continues. “The people in India really needed the support, Covid-19 was very hard on India. In that way, for me, it was having the possibility to work with them and to see what they could do, that was really fantastic.”
Photo: Courtesy Dries Van Noten
To capture its essence, the collection was shot by Bruna Kazinoti to create an editorial story, which was directed by none other than Mytheresa’s Chief Creative Officer, Julian Paul. The exclusive line hasn’t just been limited to clothing, however. Enthusiastic shoppers will also find resort-ready accessories in the fresh Dries Van Noten drop, including striped sandals, floral tote and chest bags, bucket hats, sunglasses and edgy cuff bracelets. Below, the designer reveals more about his freshest creations, what inspires him, and much more.

What is the story behind the capsule collection, and what inspired it?
The idea was combining prints, colors, flowers… tropical flowers, leaves, sunsets… all the things that make you think about the perfect summer and the perfect summer outfit. That, mixed with handmade and hand embroidered fabrics, made completely using these beautiful techniques in celebration of Indian artistry.
Photo: Courtesy Dries Van Noten
As the third generation of a Belgian tailoring family, what are the biggest lessons you have learnt from your father and grandfather?
I inherited a sensibility for garment making, its traditions and rituals. They immersed me in the fashion business by making me accompany them to Paris or Milan on their many buying trips for collections. This was the spark behind my love of fashion and dressing. At that time, I knew that I was meant to create rather than sell, as I already had this unconditional passion for fabrics, which still drives me in my creative process today.

If you were a young designer starting out in the industry today, what advice would you give your younger self?
Persistence, patience, perseverance, and passion… Passion fuels creativity!
Photo: Courtesy Dries Van Noten
Your headquarters and studio are located on the swaying waters of the Antwerp harbor, you have a beautiful house in the countryside of Antwerp with a large flowering garden, and you are in the process of building a house in Italy. How does nature balance all the different aspects of your life? Do you have a different take on your new house in Italy, especially after times of Covid and lockdowns?
I think my love of gardening influences my designs for the sole reason that I absolutely love the aspect of the unknown with nature. You plant the seed and hopefully something beautiful will grow! It could be said that it’s the lack of control we have over the earth which intrigues me.
It is the same thing for my houses in Lier and in Italy. Working on this new home calms me down and it is something I look forward to every vacation. Far away from the metropolises where I can keep my feet on the ground and hands in the earth.

Photo: Courtesy Dries Van Noten
You are a passionate gardener. For previous collections, you combined your two passions and created floral prints using photographs of flowers you’d grown in your garden. Did your style of gardening change during the pandemic—and if so, can this be seen in your collections?
I love all colors, even the “strange” ones and it is always a challenge for me to use them, either in my collections or in my garden. When I’m gardening, I can say that in a certain way I’m building a collection, there are different trends and so many different shapes!
The enormity of the cloud that is Covid-19 was new and dark in our lives. It dictated a new way of working and a time for reflection. Our collective instinct was that our work needed to be very simple, fresh, and optimistic. I was seeking inspiration from a beauty devoid of nostalgia, an energetic and optimistic beauty.

What kind of flower did you choose for the exclusive capsule collection for Mytheresa?
Anemone, daisy, chrysanthemum, alstroemeria, anthurium. Flowers that stand for summer, fun, carelessness.
Photo: Courtesy Dries Van Noten
What are you most excited about when you think of post-Covid times?
Hugging people, seeing friends… the whole thing. Professionally, I believe our role is to inspire, excite and bring a spark of excellence to the lives of those we are lucky enough to dress. It’s difficult to predict what the future holds for fashion in general, yet the specifics of our motivation are crystal clear. All we can do is not lose sight of what it is that makes us happy in our endeavor. That said, I believe we must continue to distill our creative expression to the essential core and inspire.
What does luxury mean to you?
The heightened quality of what is not immediately necessary, existential.
If you weren’t into designing, what do you think your profession would have been?
Without any doubt, gardener! My other passion is gardening, it keeps my feet and hands in the ground. Flowers are a symbol of elegance and femininity, and when I take this into account, gardening for me is not so far from fashion, but more of a continuation.

Photo: Courtesy Dries Van Noten

‘And Just Like That’ Premiere Causes Spike in Fashion Searches

‘And Just Like That’ Premiere Causes Spike in Fashion Searches

And just like that, “Sex and the City” is again having a huge influence on today’s fashion trends.The beloved HBO series debuted its reboot, “And Just Like That,” on Thursday, with characters Carrie Bradshaw, Miranda Hobbes and Charlotte York coming back together to navigate their loves lives and friendships. With just two episodes out, the show has already had an impact on fashion and shopping searches.
According to Love the Sales, a fashion e-commerce aggregator, searches for several fashion brands and items skyrocketed after being featured in the show’s first episode. After the episode’s opening scene, searches for Dries van Noten increased by 1,150 percent in relation to the floral-print jacket that Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker, wears. Bradshaw wore the jacket over a vintage Claude Montana linen jumpsuit, which caused searches for linen jumpsuits to increase by 500 percent.

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Hobbes, who is played by Cynthia Nixon, also made an impact on searches, specifically with the Loewe balloon bag that she wears in the episode’s opening scene, which caused searches for the design house to jump by 168 percent.
Played by Kristin Davis, York also made an impression on viewers for her Go Silk pink rose-detailed blouse and Alexander McQueen white midi skirt. Searches for pink blouses increased by 223 percent and searches for white skirts increased by 294 percent.
One of the first episode’s biggest nods to the fashion of the original series and movies,  Bradshaw’s Manolo Blahnik “wedding shoes” caused searches for the footwear brand to jump 391 percent.
Aside from fashion, “And Just Like That” had an impact on Peloton, which saw its stock prices plunge following the premiere where the character Mr. Big, played by Chris Noth, has a heart attack and dies after completing his 1,000th at-home ride on the Peloton bike.
Love the Sales’ data did not include searches for Peloton, however, according to Google, “Mr. Big Peloton” was a breakout search following the episode.
A Breakdown of the Fashion in ‘And Just Like That’ 
Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis Attend ‘And Just Like That’ Premiere 
Meet the Woman Behind the ‘Sex and the City’ Reboot Fashion Instagram Account 

Dries Van Noten Explains Why Designing Is Like Eating Olives

Dries Van Noten Explains Why Designing Is Like Eating Olives

After more than 30 years designing collections, Dries Van Noten says he keeps challenging himself to embrace ideas and esthetics outside his comfort zone — including ones from which he might initially recoil.
He said it’s akin to eating an olive for the first time.
“At first you have to taste it, and you might say, ‘Oh this is really not good.’ But then you start to appreciate the taste of an olive, and then you see also the possibilities that you can mix it in dishes and things like that,” he related, arguing it’s the same for fashion. “People around me have to teach me things, and show me things which I don’t know, which they may find interesting. It’s not necessary that I always have to like it.…I might say, ‘This artist I don’t like’ or ‘This musician, I don’t think it’s very right for me.’ But at a certain moment you start to hear, you learn to appreciate, and that for me is always the most interesting thing: There has to be an evolution. We can’t stand still. I think there’s always the surprise, the novelty which you have to add, and I think that’s the exciting thing about fashion.

“I have to surprise my team, I have to surprise my clients, the buyers, and I also have to surprise myself,” he continued. “The last thing I want is that my creative process becomes some kind of a trick, becomes kind of a system. We always say, there’s one golden rule here in the house: When you see the trick, you lose the magic.”

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In a wide-ranging conversation with WWD’s executive editor Bridget Foley, Van Noten reflected on his illustrious fashion career, and the very strange year 2020, which compelled him to get behind a grassroots efforts to better align fashion deliveries with seasons and snuff out early markdowns.
The loose-knit consortium, operating under the generic web site Forumletter.org, gathered hundreds of signatures from a host of luxury retailers and designers committed to slower fashion in the name of greater sustainability and respect for the creative process.
While Van Noten long resisted the treadmill of pre-collections, preferring only two collections a year, the designer said the forced slowdown amid the pandemic allowed him to shrink the size of his seasonal offering by about 30 to 35 percent.
The pandemic also scuttled runway shows, which have been the primary communication tool for the Belgian fashion house, which published a photo book in 2017 showcasing 100 of them.
The designer confessed that he initially found the prospect of unveiling his spring 2021 collections without a fashion show “quite confounding,” worried how to transmit emotions with a new, unfamiliar format. (The brand has never done an ad campaign.) But he ultimately embraced the challenge, and cited positive feedback to the images and short film he conceived with Viviane Sassen.
He disclosed that he probably won’t do any fashion shows for the fall 2021 season either. “We have to find a different way to present. When you have limitations, you can look at them as problematic, or you can also look at them as very positive  and embrace it and that’s what we try to do now.”
In fact, Van Noten applauded the varied creative solutions other designers unfurled during fashion weeks in September and October, which saw a mix of physical shows, fashion films, boxed collections, art installations and even a puppet show.

“I think we haven’t seen the beginning of it,” he enthused. “I think everybody is learning now, and everybody has to find his or her own truth, to see what’s working for their brands. For next season, we are going to really discover all those new opportunities to show collections. And I think that that’s a great, great situation.”
The designer argued that the changes brought on by the pandemic must be embraced, and they should ultimately be good for fashion.
“It makes no sense to pick up where we stopped,” he said, sitting in his vast, brick-walled office with its hulking wood furniture, a bouquet of colorful flowers propped on the desk behind him. “We have to really hope for a big change in fashion now.”
Part of the solution is returning to “the essence” of fashion, reducing waste and also “explaining to the final customer how beautiful fashion can be, the skills that go into it and what the difference is between us and the high street.”
Van Noten confessed that his online discussions with a “mini cross-section of the industry” for the Forumletter petition were exhilarating, hashing out “practical problems” with peers, who are usually perceived as competitors. “It was really like a new feeling because before it was not done,” he marveled.
Belgium was once again under lockdown at the time of the summit, meaning Van Noten was designing shoes and choosing color cards via Zoom. He said he misses “playing creative ping pong” around a big table with his team in person, when subtle gestures drive the creative decision-making. “But on the other hand, we manage,” he said.
Asked about his loyal customer base, Van Noten expressed gratitude for that, while stressing the need to attract new customers all the time. “It was never my idea to age with my collections,” he said, noting that “very early on in my creative process, I took distance, especially from the men’s wear collection, which I was at a certain moment designing for myself.”
To be sure, the designer’s passion for his craft hasn’t diminished one iota, his inimitable embellishments a “backbone” of his aesthetics. “Like a painter has his paint, I have my colors, my fabrics and my prints,” he said. “I think fashion is a very important way of communication. And it’s part of our culture. So for me everything [that] is cultural is important.”
Asked which fashion designers he admires, Van Noten didn’t drop any names, but noted, “I really follow what’s happening in fashion. For me, it’s very inspiring and interesting to see how everybody approaches garments in a different way.”
Van Noten also spoke briefly about his business journey, recalling how Barneys New York became his first wholesale client in 1986 when Bonnie Pressman wandered into his booth at a trade show in London and placed an order for his men’s collection. He expressed remorse and sadness that the luxury retailer closed its doors for good last February. “It’s a pity, because it was such an institution. I think it was a very special store,” he said. “But now maybe this creates possibilities for other people who own stores to pop up.”
Long vaunted as one of the industry’s larger independents, Van Noten surprised in 2018 when he sold a majority stake to Spanish fragrance and fashion firm Puig. Asked what was behind the decision, he cited a “combination of things,” but mainly his wish to secure the company’s future as he entered his 60s.
He confessed that the moment the deal was signed, a lot of people thought he would “become a designer like anybody else and start using a lot of logos and these type of things.”
He stressed that nothing has changed and he still takes risks with collections — his spring 2020 collaboration with Christian Lacroix but one example — and with his new Los Angeles flagship boutique, which sells past collections and boasts rotating exhibition spaces, a music room and a tropical garden.
“I still feel very independent now. They give us that freedom,” he enthused, lauding that Puig is a “family business.…It’s a big, international business, but there’s a very human approach about it.”
Asked if he might consider another blockbuster collaboration like the Lacroix one, Van Noten replied: “Never say never. I don’t know,” he said. “I think that’s the fun thing about fashion. There’s always the next step. That keeps you sharp.”

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