History has a way of repeating itself, so they say. Twenty-seven years ago—that would be 1986—Barneys New York bought the entire men’s collection of a young Belgian designer by the name of Dries Van Noten, only with the intent of selling it to women. (It was suggested that he add a few skirts.)
With menswear permeating the world of womenswear in more ways than ever, it seems only fitting that we turn once again to Dries. The famed, and famously humble, member of the Antwerp Six has created an impressive fall collection, full of signature prints and layer-able textures. And what’s most exciting? It’s the first Dries collection available online, and available only at Barneys.com.
“There is something incredibly sensual about his masculine-feminine aesthetic,” says Barneys COO Daniella Vitale. “When you are in Antwerp seeing the collection, watching Dries in the showroom, you understand the emotion behind what he does. I become more and more enamored every season.” Don’t we all?
The Window recently caught up with Dries on the eve of this historic launch.
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You’re back from vacation. How did you spend your holiday?
Work—on my collections in addition to preparations for my exhibition—is not allowing for much holiday this year! But I greatly enjoyed visiting the gardens of others as well as tending to and enjoying my own. This summer was a blissful mixture of all three.
Tell us about the new collection for Barneys. What kind of themes run throughout it?
Barneys has made a wonderful selection of our collection for their e-boutique. This is the first collaboration with an online department store in the U.S., which we find very fitting as Barneys was our first-ever client!
Any favorites among the pieces?
The coats are gorgeous—some embroidered with vivid metallic brocades—others adorned with ostrich feathers. It’s all in the details.
What kind of person did you have in mind when you were creating these collections?
We are lucky to have a wonderful group of clients across the globe, both women and men. Whenever we meet, we often realize that we mutually enjoy the simple aspects of sophistication in life—the arts, travel, gastronomy.
How does living and working in Antwerp affect your sensibility?
Living and working in Belgium probably offers us a more wide view on fashion. For me, not living in a direct fashion ‘capital’ provides an opportunity to come back after the shows, take a deep breath, clear my mind and get started on the new collections.
Give us a teaser: What do we have to look forward to in your September show?
It is far too early for us to say! Let’s just say though that we will, as we did for our recent men’s collection, be using a few prints that we found at the archives of Les Arts Décoratifs museum in Paris, where our exhibition opens on February 28th.
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As mentioned, Dries and Barneys go way back. In an interview recorded earlier this year, Dries discusses what has become a long and loving relationship.