Haute Historian: Making It In Antwerp – Dries Van Noten

November 21, 2011 • Haute Historian, Magazine

Rising to stardom is as hard as it sounds. Not only do you need to have the talent, drive and desire to make it there, you also 1. Need for the right people to notice you, 2. Get them to actually like you and 3. Prove yourself capable by getting the general population to like you and your talent enough that they’re willing to give you their money. No easy feat any way you look at it. Even now, with all the reality TV shows and competitions giving little known people opportunities to succeed in their craft, it’s difficult to reach true stardom, although it does make it somewhat easier. So what about those days prior to reality TV? How did people gain popularity among the masses? For fashion designer Dries Van Noten, it was creating a buzz for himself by joining with five fellow Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp alumni and driving cross borders to the 1988 London Fashion Fair to show off his designs.

The Antwerp Six, as they were (and are) referred as, made quite a splash on the 1980s fashion scene and put Antwerp, Belgium on the map as a fashion epicenter with their little trek. However, it wasn’t just the one season that kept Dries Van Noten a familiar name in the fashion world. While the six designers from Belgium went their separate ways after showcasing their fashion in London, Van Noten is the one who still has a measurable amount of success within the fashion industry today.

But staying in the spotlight (in a favorable way) is almost just as hard as rising into it, and Van Noten’s success hasn’t always been constant. His exuberant and provocative designs of the 80s weren’t nearly as popular with the turn of the decade, when designers like Calvin Klein reigned supreme with their minimalist looks. However, fans of Van Noten’s familiar tent dresses, chunky sweaters and floral prints as well as the hand-crafted quality of his work helped him bounce back in the 2000s. Style.com quoted Vogue when it said that his aesthetic is “poetic, ethnic-eclectic.” However, antwerpsix.blogspot.com noted that Van Noten’s biggest “stimulation” comes from watching people from the city streets of his home town of Antwerp. These two ideas seem to contradict each other, but like that of his abilities to layer multiple prints in a pleasing manner, so too can he create wearable clothing with an artistic viewpoint.

Those who’ve found success often lose it when they’re no longer aware of what their public wants. Thankfully, Van Noten has been able to stick with his aesthetics and point of view and still please his fans. His silhouettes have hardly changed in the 30 or so odd years he’s been designing clothing but still seeming to make the new with each season, an ability that has been noted and awarded by his peers. So maybe that’s the real trick to staying popular after all: don’t mess with a good thing when you’ve got it!

Dries Van Noten Spring 2000 RTW
Dries Van Noten Fall 2004 RTW
Dries Van Noten Spring 2006 RTW
Dries Van Noten Spring 2012 RTW

—Bonnie J Brown

Photos: style.com

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One Response to Haute Historian: Making It In Antwerp – Dries Van Noten

  1. Alisia says:

    The two inspiration ideas mentioned don’t seem contradictory, but synonymous. People watching is artistically and culturally inspiring and an eclectic endeavor. Very interesting post. Love his style!

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