Dries Van Noten Leaves Fashion On A High Note

His final show, a menswear collection for spring/summer 2025, was not a greatest-hits parade, but it did underscore why the industry will miss his singular vision.
Published: June 28, 2024
Photo: Spotlight

After 38 years and 150 collections, Dries Van Noten is done. There was no drama here. Van Noten wasn’t ousted by corporate overlords in favour of some hot new thing; he didn’t lose his name in a hostile takeover. Business was, in fact, flourishing—a beauty line was launched and a beautiful new store in LA opened in the last few years alone. Van Noten simply wanted to stop playing the fashion game, and he chose to quit while he’s on top. It cannot be overstated how much of a rarity that is in fashion, when designers (who own their businesses) often work until their sunset years, while creative directors-for-hire are often swapped out after three or five years. 

Related article: Alessandro Michele Surprise-Dropped His First Valentino Collection

Photo: Spotlight

Van Noten made his name as part of the Antwerp Six, a group of Belgian designers who electrified the industry in the late 80s by upending notions of dress, beauty and glamour. Since his very first show in 1986, Van Noten has never wavered from his aesthetic: A singular style that brought together the masculine and the feminine, opulence and restraint, elegance and effortlessness, the directional and the commercial. That last quality is particularly of note—Van Noten’s clothes are meant to be worn, not kept as showpieces. He famously produces everything he shows on the runway for retail, which is not as common as one thinks it would be; and his fans often mix pieces from decades ago with new-season buys. Van Noten is also an amazing print and textile designer, and he has an unparalleled sense of colour. 

Related article: Dries Van Noten Is Waving Goodbye to the Runway

Photos: Spotlight

All those Dries Van Noten hallmarks were present at his final show, for spring/summer 2025, this past Paris Men’s Fashion Week. The runway was strewn with silver leaf that wafted into the air as the models walked. Some of those models first walked for Van Noten decades ago—their presence added an extra layer of poignancy to the show. The affair started out subdued: Long, slim and soft coats and suits for both him and her in hues of black, brown, navy and ivory. 

Related article: The Runway Rundown: Men’s Spring/Summer 2025 at Milan Fashion Week

Photos: Spotlight

And then it shifted into a more exuberant key. Gold embroideries crept up the sleeves and collars of dark wool suits. Out came the colours and prints for which Van Noten is so beloved. There were powder blue and mint green organzas, velvets in deep purple and burnt orange. A rose-pink satin coat was thrown over a semi-transparent olive top and baggy burgundy shorts. 

Photos: Spotlight

Van Noten is an avid gardener so it wasn’t surprising that flowers bloomed in his final runway outing. Here, they were blown up and abstracted to look like marbling—rendered in dusty, sun-bleached hues, layered atop one another. Despite all the visual stimulation, everything looked absolutely weightless. This could be attributed partly to the filmy, crinkly polyamide that looked like liquid glass and when deployed on long pieces like trench coats, floated behind the wearer. 

Photos: Spotlight

Towards the end, there was utter brilliance—literally, a result of fabrics that were iridescent, lustrous, shimmery and gossamer. Standouts include pieces that changed colour from gold to silver depending on how the light hit them as the models moved. In that darkened space, their glowing impact was all the greater, and they underscored the North Star of Van Noten’s almost four-decade career: It has always been about beauty—not buzz nor branding, not fleeting trends nor fame. As the models completed their final lap, a curtain fell to reveal a giant disco ball, which felt fitting. It might be the end of an era, but Van Noten has given us plenty to celebrate.  

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