NEW YORK — The Couture Council of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology is tipping its hat to Dries Van Noten.
This story first appeared in the April 23, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Belgian designer is being honored with the 2009 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion at the organization’s fourth annual luncheon, which is scheduled to take place at Cipriani 42nd Street on Sept. 9.
Reached on Wednesday, Van Noten told WWD he felt flattered by the accolade. “I am very happy with this award, because it is for artistry in fashion, which for me is one of the most important things. It’s the skills, the craftsmanship, the colors and the fabrics I create.”
Explaining this year’s choice, Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT, who chairs the Couture Council Advisory Committee, said artistry characterized van Noten’s work from early on. “His incredible sensitivity to color, to pattern and to ornamentation — and the way he has searched the world to find craftspeople who can do what he wants them to do — is extraordinary,” Steele said. “His clothes are unmistakably his. I think they have made a really important contribution to the history of contemporary fashion.”
Van Noten launched his collection in 1986. He was a member of the Antwerp Six and became known for his sense of color and texture.
He’s receiving the award at a difficult time for fashion and has his thoughts on the current climate. “I think everybody has to reconsider everything,” Van Noten said. “Crisis can be also be, in one way, positive, because you are forced to rethink, and to review what you are doing and how you are doing it, and what the future of fashion and the future of luxury is.”
Like many of his design colleagues, Van Noten has been considering the fashion system and ways it needs to be adjusted in this new reality. “Especially in the last years, it just became too much,” the Antwerp-based designer said. “Between trunk shows, pre-collections and you name it, the customers in the store didn’t know any more, so there was one big confusion of different collections. Sales started earlier and earlier, which also was a kind of overdose. There, we have to reconsider and rethink a little, to calm down and make things a little bit simpler sometimes — not the clothes but the whole system of fashion.”
The Couture Council luncheon will be hosted by founding Couture Council chairs Yaz Hernandez, Liz Peek and Sarah Wolfe. Charlotte Moss is the founding luncheon chair, and Simon Doonan, Barneys New York’s creative director, will once again serve as the emcee at the event, which honored Isabel Toledo, Alber Elbaz and Ralph Rucci in previous years.
It is unlikely Van Noten will give a grand speech at the event. “I am not so good at speeches,” he admitted. “So it is going to be something more visual that I want to show, explaining a lot of things that I want to say.”