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Dries Van Noten: A beacon of inspiration for young designers in Belgium and beyond

By Veerle Versteeg


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People |In Pictures

Dries Van Noten (right) and Christian Lacroix (left) pose with a look from their SS20 collaborative collection. Credits: Dries Van Noten SS20. ©Launchmetrics/Spotlight

In the hallowed halls of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, the name Dries Van Noten resonates with a special kind of reverence. Van Noten announced his departure from his eponymous fashion house earlier today. However, the fashion world can be sure his legacy as one of the academy’s most illustrious alumni will live on. Van Noten's journey from a fashion student to an internationally celebrated designer serves as a towering beacon of inspiration for students both at his alma mater and around the world.

The Antwerp Six legacy

Dries Van Noten's education at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the early 1980s marked the beginning of what would become a revolutionary career in fashion. Alongside fellow students who would form the legendary group known as the Antwerp Six, Van Noten challenged the conventions of the fashion world with innovative designs and a distinct avant-garde aesthetic. This collective, with Van Noten as a central figure, has inspired countless students to pursue their unique visions, emphasising the importance of creativity and innovation.

A career built on artistic integrity

From the outset of his career, Van Noten has been celebrated for his use of eclectic fabrics, intricate embroidery, and a masterful blend of prints. His commitment to sustainability and ethical production practices long before they became industry buzzwords demonstrates a forward-thinking approach that resonates with the new generation of designers. For students, Van Noten's ability to maintain creative and business independence for over three decades [Spanish fashion giant Puig acquired a majority stake in the brand in 2018, ed.] after founding his fashion label is particularly inspiring, showcasing the possibility of achieving global success without compromising artistic integrity.

Dries van Noten ss24/ look 50 Credits: Dries van Noten ss24/Launchmetrics Spotlight

Bridging cultures and eras

Van Noten's designs are a testament to the power of drawing inspiration from a myriad of sources, blending elements from different cultures and historical periods into something uniquely contemporary. His work encourages students to look beyond the traditional boundaries of fashion, exploring how the past and the present can coalesce into the future of design.

Mentorship and influence

Though not directly involved in teaching, Van Noten's impact on fashion education extends through his exhibitions, interviews, and interactions with the fashion community. His willingness to share insights into his creative process and the business of fashion offers invaluable lessons for aspiring designers.

Dries van Noten fiftieth show where the table became a catwalk. Credits: SS05, Via fashion house Dries van Noten, photographer Andrew Thomas

A global classroom

Van Noten's influence reaches far beyond Antwerp, inspiring students and fashion enthusiasts around the globe. Through online platforms, exhibitions, and international fashion shows, his work serves as a virtual classroom for those who seek to learn from one of the masters of contemporary fashion.

As Dries Van Noten continues to enchant the world with his visionary collections, his legacy as a source of inspiration for fashion students remains undiminished. In the ever-evolving landscape of fashion, where the pressures of commercial success often outweigh the pursuit of creative expression, Van Noten's career stands as a reminder that true success is rooted in authenticity, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to one's artistic vision.

The Belgian couturier will step down as creative director of his brand after presenting his SS25 collection at Paris Fashion Week in June 2024.

One of the fashion collections of the well-known Antwerp fashion academy alumnus that still resonates with fashion students all over the world today is Van Noten’s iconic collaboration with Christian Lacroix in 2019 and 2020.

View some of the looks from the SS20 Dries Van Noten x Christian Lacroix collaboration below.

Dries van Noten, SS20 Ready to Wear. Collaborative collection with Christian Lacroix. Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight
Dries Van Noten SS20 Ready-to-Wear. Collaborative collection with Christian Lacroix. Credits: ©Launchmetrics/Spotlight
Dries Van Noten SS20 Ready-to-Wear. Collaborative collection with Christian Lacroix. Credits: ©Launchmetrics/Spotlight

This article text has been partially generated with an AI tool, and then edited by Veerle Versteeg. It is based on a synthesis of known information about Dries Van Noten's career and impact, without direct quotes or references to specific external sources at the time of writing. It draws upon general knowledge of Van Noten's history, his role in the Antwerp Six, and his influence on fashion design and sustainability practices, which are widely recognized in the fashion industry and discussed in various fashion publications and interviews.

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