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.”
A grooming moment between @tanfrance and @antoni last night at the The LGBT Community Center Trailblazer Awards honoring Anna Wintour, Ricky Martin and more. See more photos at WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
“It was a very surreal feeling. It wasn’t like we were in the studio together coming up with it — it’s more like he discovered it and loved it. I didn’t let myself get my hopes up, but then it happened it was very exciting,” said singer-songwriter @nombe on discovering that @pharrell would be using his song, “Cant Catch Me” on his HBO documentary series “Outpost.” The German-born singer — named Noah MacBeth — talked to WWD about feminism, using art as a platform for political expression and personal style. Read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
This season, denim is going west – in influence. Brands like @fathersdaughterla (pictured here), @tommyhilfiger Jeans, @levis and more are opting for raw, top-stitching styles. (Styled by @thealexbadia; 📷: @ryanplett)
20-year-old British singer @jorjasmith_ made her debut at Coachella last weekend. We caught up with her and talked about her love for Amy Winehouse, working with Kendrick Lamar on the “Black Panther” album and her fashion philosophy. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @katiedaisyla)
Supermodel @helenachristensen teamed up with longtime friend and designer @camillastaerk on a joint @paredeyewear collaboration. The lineup features three styles and 11 offerings, all of which embody a vintage feel. Get all the details on how they celebrated the collab on WWD.com. #wwdaccessories #wwdeye (📷: @slovekinpics)
“It’s a hard industry to keep motivated, as well, so finding different subjects and people is what makes it worth it – when you’re like, oh, I’ve met great people, I feel like I’ve done something good, and I feel proud of having done this,” said French actress Stacy Martin on being grateful for the variety of roles she’s take on. Read @ktauer’s full interview with Martin on her her latest film “Godard Mon Amour.” #wwdeye (📷: @danieldorsa)