It's not often that one gets the chance to speak in person with Dries Van Noten, the 52-year-old Belgian designer whose rocky road to fame culminated in his winning the 2008 International Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. For one thing, he's ususally in Belgium. So, naturally, we were eager to attend last night's unveiling of his gorgeous new retail space in Bergdorf Goodman.
Nestled snugly across from The Row's austere presentation, Van Noten's shop is an oasis of color and texture, both on the racks and off. "The design was really about mixing different and contrasting elements, just like the collection," Van Noten says of translating his eclectic aesthetic to the couches, tables and shop fittings. A Mandarin-looking display case in bright red, for example, housed one of the designer's covetable watercolor clutches, and stood in sharp contrast to the more modern tufted sofa in pale porcelain blue. Best of all—aside from the clothes themselves—was the shock of chartreuse velour curtain sealing off the dressing rooms and framing the space.
We kept circling back to the technicolor shoes placed casually on a glass coffee table: the fuss-free display for such high-end product seemed to capture something of the spirit of this brand: fashion for Van Noten is less about precision (though to look at some of his slashed lace cocktail dresses, it's easy to see masterful tailoring at work) than about having fun and experimenting with clothes and, by extension, with your style persona.