Yesterday, the French Institute Alliance invited Dries Van Noten to do a lecture as part of their Fashion Talks 2012 series. I had the immense pleasure of sitting through the conversation, as it's a rare occasion to catch a glimmer of insight from an amazing designer who avoids the spotlight and any sort of self promotion. In an industry where prominent presence is often synonymous to being a spectacle, he is an excellent example of an exception to that standard. Mr. Noten mentioned that he prefers to divert any excess attention because he only wants to communicate through his clothes and fashion shows.
Dries Van Noten was every bit of soft spoken thoughtfulness that I imagined him to be. He spoke for over an hour about his creative process, how he picks out his textiles, gardening and his dog. Here are some of my favorite things he said that I was able to jot down...
"I prefer ugly things. You force yourself to ask questions."
On the secret to being an independent designer for 27 years:
"To continue. There is always a tomorrow."
On what you would find if you opened his own closet:
"Something very boring."
"Always start with a story. I don't have a muse. It can start with a painting, a movie, a sound or a smell."
"I prefer short trips, just enough time to have a detail. It's more inspiring than a long trip for two weeks. Now you have the freedom to add on to that element."
"I think it's a very good thing to do with Fashion. With Fashion you try to do everything, you try to control everything. With a fashion show if you want rain, you go get rain, if you want sunshine you can get fake sunshine. In a garden, not so. It really puts your two feet on the ground. It's something very human and I think that's very good."
His best advice:
"Take your time."
1. Illustration by me, looking at the shoes in the Fall 2012 show. 2. Dries Van Noten Fall 2012 show images, via Style.com. 3. Photo I snapped at the Dries Van Noten lecture. 4. Dries Van Noten's private gardens at his home, scanned by me from Vogue Magazine. 4. All quotes written down by me, from Dries Van Noten Fashion Talks at the FIAF.