Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Noten

Belgian fashion designer
Country: Belgium

  1. Biography of Dries Van Noten
  2. Early Life
  3. Career

Biography of Dries Van Noten

Dries Van Noten is a Belgian fashion designer and owner of the eponymous fashion brand. He currently creates four collections per year - winter and summer collections for both men and women. In 2005, the 'New York Times' named him one of the most intellectual fashion designers in the world. His style can be described as eccentric and he fell out of favor during the minimalist reign of the 90s, but successfully made a comeback in the 2000s. In 2008, Van Noten received the International Award of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and dressed Cate Blanchett for the Oscars.

Dries Van Noten

Early Life

Dries Van Noten was born in Antwerp in 1958, into a family with a tradition of clothing tailoring. He was part of the third generation of tailors in his family. During the interwar period, his grandfather, an experienced tailor, worked with worn-out clothing, transforming and preparing Antwerp for the concept of ready-to-wear clothing. Van Noten's father grew up in his grandfather's workshop and became the owner of a high-end men's clothing store. In 1970, he opened a large upscale fashion store in the suburbs of Antwerp, followed by a second boutique in the city center, where Van Noten Sr. sold clothing from 'Ungaro', 'Ferragamo', and 'Zegna' collections. At the same time, Van Noten's mother managed a chain store called 'Cassandre' and collected antique lace and lingerie. Growing up in this atmosphere, Van Noten immersed himself in the world of fashion from an early age, familiarizing himself with its rituals and traditions. As a child, he accompanied his father to fashion shows in Milan, Düsseldorf, and Paris, where he learned about the commercial and technical aspects of the profession. However, Van Noten soon realized that he preferred creating clothes rather than selling them.

Dries Van Noten


In 1976, at the age of 18, Van Noten enrolled in the fashion design course at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. While still a student, he started working as a freelance designer for various Belgian clothing manufacturers. This practical experience proved invaluable when he embarked on his own projects - creating collections and selling them. In the same year, he met Christine Mathys, who remained his business partner and friend until her death in 1999. After graduating from the Academy in 1980, Van Noten continued to work as a freelancer for six more years before he started creating his debut collection of blazers, shirts, and trousers. The collection, presented in 1986 in London as part of the famous Antwerp Six show, was highly successful and was ordered by prestigious retailers such as 'Barneys New York', 'Pauw' from Amsterdam, and 'Whistles' in London. 'Barneys New York' has been regularly placing orders with Van Noten ever since.

In September of the same year, Van Noten opened his first tiny boutique in one of Antwerp's galleries, where he sold his men's and women's collections made from the same fabric. In 1989, he moved his first boutique into a five-story building of a former historic department store, which ironically used to be his grandfather's main competitor. Van Noten carefully restored the building, preserving many of its historical details and features. Today, the building houses upscale boutiques of prestigious brands. Van Noten's company quickly grew, and he soon opened an exhibition space in Paris and a salon in Milan. In July 2000, the designer moved into a huge six-story building that used to be a warehouse for German and Allied forces, covering an area of about 5,500 square meters. The building now houses an exhibition space, as well as departments responsible for design, marketing, production, accounting, logistics, and other services. The salon is located on the top floor, offering a breathtaking view of the entire city.

In January 2007, Van Noten opened a boutique in Paris, choosing a historic building in the heart of the city. In March 2009, a designer's boutique opened in Tokyo, and in September 2010, the first 'Dries Van Noten' menswear store was opened in Paris. From the beginning of his career, Van Noten relied solely on his own resources and remains the sole owner of the enterprise, whose products are sold worldwide - from New York to Moscow, while he continues to live and work in Antwerp. Together with his partner Patrick Vangheluwe, they live in a country house with nearly 3 hectares of land, where Van Noten indulges in his passion for gardening.

Van Noten's brand focuses on ready-to-wear fashion, not haute couture, not because the designer lacks the qualifications but because he dislikes the idea of showcasing items on the runway that cannot be purchased in stores. His works are characterized by an abundance of prints, vibrant colors, unique fabrics, and layering. He hardly uses advertising to promote his brand.