The morning after he accepted the Museum at FIT’s Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion Wednesday at an industry luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street in Manhattan, Dries Van Noten found himself addressing a slightly greener audience: The Fashion Institute of Technology’s student body, which gathered in a Seventh Avenue amphitheater for a Q&A with Van Noten, organized at the Belgian designer’s request.
“I really believe that these people are the future of fashion,” said Van Noten of his idea to engage with the students. “The way I make fashion is the most common way, and I want to show the students that there are a lot of ways.”
A brief introduction by Valerie Steele aside, the students had the floor for the majority of the hour-long talk. While the requisite inspiration and design process questions were posed, Van Noten’s unique business model proved the hot topic.
When asked about the fact that he’s independently financed, he said: “When I started in ’85-’86, it wasn’t my idea to be self-financed, it was the only way to start.”
Still, he admitted such independence has its benefits. “I don’t have managers pushing me for fragrance licenses, but I’m informed. I know what Barneys is selling well. I’m known for flowers, but where others might be pressured to put a little bit of flowers in because that’s what sells, I can still do a collection of black-and-white and checks,” said Van Noten, referring to his spring 2009 collection.
Other points of intrigue included Van Noten’s distinct design identity, much of which he said he owes to living in Antwerp, Belgium (“It creates a healthy distance from the industry. You don’t have to go to all the fashionable parties. That changes your mind a little bit”); what he considers his smartest decision (“Opening the store in Paris”), and, of course, his tips for aspiring designers. There, the designer championed the Internet and the lost art of starting small. “I did my first fashion show seven or eight years after my first collection,” he said.
Yet for all his sage words, Van Noten cautioned against advice in general. “You have to leave room for fault,” he said. “You have to do what you want.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast