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Monday, April 15, 2024

Fashion Icon Dries Van Noten Announces Retirement

In a surprising turn of events, Dries Van Noten has announced his departure as the creative director of his eponymous fashion brand, sending ripples through the fashion world. The forthcoming fall 2024 men’s show, slated for June in Paris, will mark his final presentation at the helm.

In a heartfelt letter addressed to editors, the 65-year-old designer expressed gratitude for realizing his dream of having a voice in fashion but indicated a desire to shift his focus towards pursuits he had previously neglected. As one of the original members of the Antwerp Six, a group of Belgian designers who made a significant impact on the fashion scene upon their arrival in Paris in the early 1980s, Van Noten acknowledged that he had been preparing for this transition for some time. He emphasized the importance of making space for a new generation of talents to bring their vision to the brand.

Van Noten’s decision to step down, particularly at the height of his creative prowess, is a rare occurrence in an industry where founders often cling to their positions well into their later years without engaging in succession planning. Known for his consideration, originality, and attention to detail, Van Noten’s approach to both his designs and his business has been marked by grace and integrity.

Since 2018, when he sold a majority stake in his brand to the Puig fashion and fragrance conglomerate, Van Noten had been taking steps to ensure the future sustainability of his label. This partnership allowed the brand to expand its team and venture into new categories, such as beauty and fragrance. However, despite relinquishing some control, Van Noten continued to find the relentless pace of the industry challenging.

In a 2022 interview with The New York Times, Van Noten expressed concerns about the sustainability of the fashion calendar and the need for a more balanced production rhythm to combat extreme discounting. Despite these challenges, he acknowledged the addictive nature of the industry’s pace and the constant drive to create and innovate.

In his letter, Van Noten hinted at a forthcoming announcement of his successor while indicating that he would remain involved with the brand in some capacity, although he did not specify the nature of his future role. Known for his passion for gardening, which often served as inspiration for his colorful and vibrant designs, Van Noten’s departure marks a significant moment in the evolution of the fashion industry.

As he embarks on this new chapter, Van Noten’s departure symbolizes a shift in the traditional notions of succession within the fashion world. Just as he and his peers once revolutionized the industry with their innovative designs, Van Noten’s departure signals a new era in how designers navigate transitions and pave the way for future generations of talent.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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