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15 Dries Van Noten Experts on His Greatest Contributions to Fashion, and What Might Come Next

Courtesy of Getty Images / Photo illustration by Armando Zaragoza

This is an edition of the newsletter Show Notes, in which Samuel Hine reports from the front row of the global fashion week circuit. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.


On Tuesday, the fashion world began processing the bittersweet news that Dries Van Noten would be stepping back from his namesake brand. Van Noten is often called a designer’s designer, which really means that people with high taste levels had an enduring passion for his clothes, always interesting and expressive but never over-the-top. Some fans cried, like the creative consultant and Dries enthusiast Amanda Murray, who noted her grief on Instagram. Others chose retail therapy. “I am typing this while being inside the DVN store changing room in Paris, panic-shopping after the announcement,” messaged Beka Gvishiani of industry register Style Not Com when I reached out that morning.

You don’t have to clear out the nearest Dries boutique just yet—the Antwerp Six member is capping off his 38-year run with one more menswear show, to be held in Paris in June, meaning his clothes will be in stores through next spring. While we gear up for what will surely be an epic sendoff, I asked Murray, Gvishiani, and many other members of Van Noten’s extremely chic cult of Belgian fashion to share their favorite Dries stories. I also asked them the toughest question of all: Who might fill his perfect white tennis shoes?

Tommy Ton
Photographer and longtime Dries collaborator

What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
I think my overall best memory is just having the opportunity to work on the store’s visuals and lookbook. I’d spend the 24-48 hours before each show photographing the fittings, and seeing Dries work intensely leading up the show always remains such a vivid memory I treasure. Every tuck, pleat, pin or gesture was very considered and touched by him personally. He was truly a hands-on technician of his craft.

What's his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
His greatest contribution was just the gift of his talents. How rare for a designer to give the world a glimpse into his. He singularly created a look that will always be his signature. It’s not very often when someone can say, “Oh that’s very Dries!” He created his own language

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
I honestly think the next creative director should be his team. Why does another brand or house need a new creative director to take the brand in a direction it doesn’t need to go in? His team has been with him for many years and they would do a fantastic job maintaining the legacy. Or it could be Meryll Rogge. [Ed note: Rogge is a Belgian designer who attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. She worked at Dries Van Noten for four years as head of womenswear, and launched her own brand in 2020.]

Behind the scenes of the Dries Van Noten Fall-Winter 2020 men's show
Behind the scenes of the Dries Van Noten Fall-Winter 2020 men's show
All photos by Tyrell Hampton

Mel Ottenberg
Interview Magazine editor-in-chief


What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
I always hated the Barneys Dries men’s buy as it just wasn’t for me, but nevertheless my favorite Dries memories are of finding the perfect life-changing Dries items at Barneys and wearing them nonstop into the ground until they disintegrated. His clothes really had an impact on my life!

What's his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
Color, texture, and print.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
No idea.

Who will be the next creative director of DVN?
No idea!

24KGoldn
Rapper, songwriter, Dries enthusiast

What’s your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
Man, when Michelle Obama pulled up to Japan in the multicolor peacock-esque Dries coat, it was legendary. She’s the most stylish First Lady ever, so of course she’s wearing Dries Van Noten.

What’s his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
Fearlessness. With trends coming in and out of style every 3-5 business days, it’s been great to watch Dries shamelessly and consistently remain authentic with his love for the dramatic beauty of color, pattern, and flair.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
Heaven Tanudiredja. [Ed. note: Tanudiredja is an Indonesian designer. Like Rogge, he attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp and worked at Dries Van Noten before launching his own brand.]

Beka Gvishiani
AKA Style Not Com

What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
12 years ago I came to Paris for the first time ever, and I didn’t have a big shopping budget. So I went to Le Bon Marche and I got Dries Van Noten pants on discount for around 300 euros. Imagine how many times they’ve been washed and dry cleaned in 12 years, but they are still the same as the day I bought them. Whenever anyone asks me what brand they are and I say Dries, they reply, Of course.

What's his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
His menswear. From a customer perspective, I think he taught us how to dress. That’s his biggest contribution: How to dress timelessly, elegantly, and not be boring but still look super super classic. He’s a teacher to me.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
You can’t succeed Dries Van Noten, because there’s only one Dries Van Noten.

Who will be the next creative director of DVN?
When I read that the Spring-Summer 2025 women’s collection will be done by the design team, I thought, maybe it’s gonna be so good, and they can keep the brand designed by the studio. Let’s see. I don’t think it should be a star name. Someone from his team should do the job to keep his spirit.

Chris Black
“How Long Gone” co-host, GQ columnist

What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
The Fall-Winter 2014 menswear collection and photos of his insane garden.

What's his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
Consistency and subtlety.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
Anyone who will not fuck it up.

Who will be the next creative director of DVN?
Someone unexpected who will most likely make it worse.

Amanda Murray
Creative consultant, diehard Dries devotee

What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
My favorite memory of Dries is meeting him. He was so pleased with the way I coupled pieces from different seasons together. When I stood in front of him, he whispered to his assistant that my look made him very happy. The following day I received a message from someone on his team saying, “He asked about you and wanted to know if you were famous.” His team then posted a picture of us on his Instagram.

What's his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
His greatest contribution to fashion is his unwavering commitment to sending beauty into the world. He’s one of the few male designers that truly loves women; he’s remained instinctive about how women want to feel in clothes in their own lives in the real world, and not just on red carpets. He wants women to feel strong and beautiful and not diminutive in his clothes, and he achieved that.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
Meryll Rogge, Christopher John Rogers, and Sander Lak.

Who will be the next creative director of DVN?
I feel like it will be Meryll Rogge. He attended her presentation last year, and if you know Dries, you know he rarely pops out. That felt like a hint.

Richard Haines
Artist who contributed illustrations to Van Noten’s Spring-Summer 2015 collection

What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
Seeing my drawings come to life through Dries’ vision.

What's his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
Proof that integrity and vision matter.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
Someone who understands the singular vibrations of Antwerp.

Jose Criales Unzueta
Vogue Runway fashion news writer

What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
I have two favorite Dries memories. The most recent is attending my first—and only to date—Dries show. It was the men's Spring-Summer 2024 collection last June. I don't think I had ever been as excited to attend a show as I was that day. Dries is heavily mythologized both in my mind and within my friend group, so seeing a show of his up close and then seeing him pop up to wave at the audience… I can't explain how wild that felt. Of all the “I guess this is my life now” moments I've had since starting at Vogue, this is definitely in the top two, and it's not number two.

The second is from the time I got to meet him, which was while I was still in college. I was studying abroad in Hong Kong, and a professor invited me to hear him speak at a gallery. I don't think I had ever heard anyone speak about fashion like he did, in terms of ethos but also his commitment to his ready-to-wear business, avoiding gratuitous promotion or advertising, etc. I was studying design at the time, but this was when I started thinking about writing because I just wanted to be the one interviewing him.

What's his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
I think that the way in which he's leaving is going to be one of his greatest contributions. It's a masterclass in knowing when to stop, and perhaps even quitting while you're ahead. Not to take his fall show title, but Dries has always been one to “cut his own fringe,” and the fact that it has worked has shown many that they should keep at it.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
I'd love to see someone who understands his sensibility more than just the look. All very esoteric, I know, but I think of someone like Christopher John Rogers, or a friend mentioned Meryll Rogge, who would be interesting. A few years ago I would have said Sander Lak—I wonder what he's up to. I wonder what Josep Font, who used to do Delpozo, is up to as well. Marni's Francesco Risso would be fascinating, or even someone like [Collina Strada designer] Hillary Taymour would be interesting too.

Who will be the next creative director of DVN?
I feel like it's looking like an internal hire. We're seeing lots of number twos being elevated to these roles, and I wouldn't be surprised if he does just that.

Hillary Taymour
Collina Strada founder and designer

What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
I remember moving to NYC in 2010 and being completely fashion obsessed and starstruck. Seeing the DVN Fall-Winter 2010 show on Style.com made my jaw drop. Look 43 embodied everything I wanted to be. It really opened up my eyes to how you could dress elegantly in this very grunge way. Which is literally the problem I have when I go to events—I feel like I'm cosplaying myself at functions. However this look really owns how to be a woman, how to be taken seriously, but also just be cool. I think about the look often and it definitely has crept into my thought process when I design.

What's his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
I think DVN really defined dressing a woman. Unlike many other male designers, he loves the female form and truly just makes great clothes. No one else does elegance/cool mixed with print and color like he does. Also, his perfume will be a timeless staple in every fashionista's bathroom for decades to come.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
Someone who really can continue his color theory and print legacy (hopefully a woman). I think the Dries shapes are so well established that the house really needs someone with the same fun eye for color and florals. I hope whoever gets the job doesn't try to make it their own through ego, but continues the DVN formula and legacy, only adding their touch when they need to stay modern.

Who will be the next creative director of DVN?
No comment lol.

Jim Moore
GQ creative director-at-large, attendee of countless Dries Van Noten shows

What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
I have so many favorite Dries shows, almost too many to imagine, like the one presented in a hidden cave in Paris. But my favorite one is the one high on a hill above Florence, above the Boboli Gardens, featuring a disco ball hanging from a crane, alongside a David replica statue. [Ed. note: this was in June of 1995.] The entire show was staged as a street fair, and I will never forget the joy and the haphazard beauty of the whole situation. The clothes were stunning. The set decoration A-plus, but the experience we had was soulful and filled with so much love. That is/was Dries. He is a giving person as well as an amazing designer.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
I feel the new designer could be someone or a team of people that Dries currently works with. When I think of Dries, I think of soulful, beautiful clothes, color combinations that are unworldly and romantic touches that never seem nostalgic. His vision would be beautifully preserved and reimagined by one of his current designers. I think the dream of Dries needs to stay close to his heart.

Jian DeLeon
Nordstrom Men’s fashion director

What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
Dries Van Noten’s menswear shows are always a journey, figuratively and literally! From empty warehouses, empty offices that once housed Parisian liberal newspapers, and parking garages, walking up to his shows always had rest stops along the way, usually punctuated with drink carts full of fresh juices and cold beers. I’ll always cherish cracking open my first beer after a long day at fashion week and toasting fellow attendees before enjoying the show.

What's his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
Dries has two big impacts, one of the first is bringing a more romantic approach to menswear through colorful patterns and recontextualizing tailoring and military staples through a decidedly softer lens. The stuffiness is taken out of pinstripes, and in his hands camouflage feels more artistic and floral. The second is elevating craft and embroidery, and bringing attention to artisans in countries like India, which is currently experiencing a luxury manufacturing boom. He was way ahead of that.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
It’s hard to say, but there is a lot of talent that has come from Dries, like Sander Lak, whose penchant for color and romanticism is sorely missed ever since he shuttered Sies Marjan. I’m also a fan of another Dries alum, Meryll Rogge, who excels in the plays on pattern and proportion that Dries is known for. For the past few seasons, Dries menswear has had a lot of design input from Gianfranco Villegas, a Filipino designer with a great eye and a ton of potential. But I would also be interested in seeing some up-and-coming talent take the helm. Someone who instantly comes to mind is Angelo Urrutia of 4SDesigns, who is doing amazing things with textiles and has a unique point-of-view when it comes to reinterpreting the classic menswear wardrobe.

Marcus Paul
Stylist and interior designer

What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
The Fall-Winter 2016 menswear show at Palais Garnier is one of my fondest memories. It was a special moment because Dries applied to show at that venue for 15 years until they finally gave him permission to present there. The show was grand and regal in every aspect from the venue to the clothing. It was an honor to be in attendance.

What's his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
His timeless elegance. His use of color, patterns, embroidery and embellishments are extraordinary. He always had such a range to his presentation from suiting, leisurewear to accessories. I truly believe Dries is your favorite designer's favorite designer.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
I personally don't think Dries is replaceable, but his namesake brand must live on. I think they should hire from within his team, someone who has worked closely with him and truly understands his aesthetic and sensibilities.

Alexander Roth
Art director and influencer

What’s your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
The first DVN show I attended felt more like a spiritual gathering. The atmosphere was different from other shows—everyone had this unspoken, raw connection to Dries. I was truly inspired. He has this innate ability to clash textures and layers on the runway, yet each piece individually tells its own story. He pushed me to question my styling choices after that. His approach was always fresh, yet comforting and cohesive. More importantly, there endures a way of dressing and thinking that is undeniably Dries.

What’s his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
True timelessness in all aspects; being unapologetically himself and not conforming to any sort of trend standard.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
Someone who understands Dries wholeheartedly.

Bruno Krahl
German model

What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
My favorite memory has to be Dries in his garden of flowers. That's such a beautiful approach to making a collection. And as we are looking for more organic approaches to the fashion chain, this is a great and local idea to gather inspiration.

What's his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
It’s difficult to say, but it has to be his unique approach to materials combined with a great sense of tailoring. I wear a lot of Dries because the materials appeal to me and the cuts fit me well.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
When thinking of fresh approaches to his brand, names like Emily Bode or Grace Wales Bonner come to mind. Clare Waight Keller has been without a job for a while, but that’s really a wildcard.

Who will be the next creative director of DVN?
I think it will be someone from Belgium. There are still so many great people coming from Antwerp, the focus on creativity there is higher.

Steff Yotka
SSENSE head of digital content

What's your favorite Dries Van Noten memory?
I just started my first big time fashion job around the time of the Dries Spring-Summer 2015 womenswear collection, and I remember the moss invites being such a big deal and everyone going mental over the brocades and layered slip dresses in that collection. Later that year, the artist Alexandra Kehayoglou, who created the mossy rug that all the models reclined on at the end of that show, had an exhibition, and Dries gave me a quote about his use of the rug and the reclining models: “Many were moved by such a simple gesture.” To me, that's been the lesson of Dries all along. The clothes are a simple gesture, but the most poignant.

What's his greatest contribution to fashion, in your opinion?
He makes the idea of everyday life—and everyday clothes—extraordinary but still approachable. I don't think there is a single living, working designer who is able to imbue poetry and passion into daily dress like Dries. Barn jackets, jeans, flip-flops—these plebeian things become enchanted through his lens. There's no pretentiousness in his design. A lot of luxury fashion can become a game of “you just don't understand the designer's vision,” and at Dries there's none of this nonsense. The beauty of these clothes is so evident: His vision is making your life more beautiful. The only other designer of late to do this on the same scale was Alber Elbaz—a designer who felt at the service of the people who wore his clothes, not the other way around.

Who should be the next creative director of DVN?
Matthieu Blazy is someone who understands the balance of dream and reality. I would also nominate German designer Lutz Huelle, a fellow dreamer, or Undercover’s Jun Takahashi, whose last show had a number of suspiciously well-aligned motifs with Dries's final womenswear show, as good candidates.

Who will be the next creative director of DVN?
Dries, it's not too late to say you were kidding!

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Originally Appeared on GQ