Dries Van Noten is bowing out

By Laure Guilbault

Photo: Acielle / StyleDuMonde

The Belgian designer will retire after his final men’s show in June. A successor at his Puig-owned namesake brand has yet to be named

Dries Van Noten is to take his final bow at his men’s show in June in Paris, Vogue has learned. His successor has not yet been named.


“Now, I want to shift my focus to all the things I never had the time for. I’m sad, but at the same time happy, to let you know that I will step down at the end of June. I have been preparing for this moment for a while, and I feel it’s time to leave room for a new generation of talents to bring their vision to the brand,” Van Noten wrote in a letter, with an illustration of the designer and his dog by Richard Haines.

He added that the women’s spring/summer '25 collection will be designed by the studio team. “I have full confidence that they will do a great job. In due time, we will announce the designer who will continue the story of the DVN men and women. However, I will stay involved in the house that I treasure so much.”

Dries Van Noten FW24. Photo: GoRunway

Dries Van Noten FW24. Photo: GoRunway

Dries Van Noten FW24. Photo: GoRunway

The 65-year-old Belgian designer, known for his avant-garde collections and sumptuous use of colours, sold a majority stake of his brand to Spanish fashion and beauty conglomerate Puig in 2018. He remained a significant minority shareholder and has continued his role as chief creative officer and chairman of the board. “I have been searching for a strong partner for the company which I have built for more than 30 years. I am especially happy that Antwerp and my team will remain at the company’s heart and centre,” Van Noten said in a press release at the time of the acquisition. The amount of the transaction wasn’t disclosed. According to press reports citing industry sources, the company’s annual sales in 2017 were under $100 million.

A member of the Antwerp Six collective, he launched a men’s collection in Antwerp in 1986 and in 1993, brought his women’s collection to the Paris runways. “I’m known for colour and prints and embroideries,” he told Vogue in 2007. “Normally the more clashing it is, the more that I like it.” In 2008, he received the CFDA’s prestigious International Award.

With Puig, the designer launched his first beauty line in 2022, which consists of 10 gender-fluid eau de parfums informed by his paradise-like garden outside Antwerp and 30 lipsticks. “For over three decades, he has been one of fashion’s rare independent operators who made his name not on licenses but on clothes. And yet [the designer] is probably better suited to these things than many of his peers,” wrote *Vogue Runway *and Vogue Business’s Nicole Phelps in 2022. He opened his first store entirely devoted to beauty and accessories in Paris in 2023.

The brand counts a dozen stores, plus a number of points of sale including at Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Selfridges, Le Bon Marché and Lotte.

In its 2023 annual earnings, Puig described Dries Van Noten as “its fastest-growing niche brand” also stressing a “particularly dynamic momentum”. “The brand is now blooming. Like in a garden, you decide what to plant; and at some point, it continues to flourish,” the designer also wrote in his letter.

The designer steps out at the close of the Dries Van Noten autumn/winter '24 runway show. Photo: GoRunway

The news of Van Noten’s exit comes as speculations of Puig’s imminent initial public offering reach a new peak.

Dries Van Noten’s autumn/winter '24 show during Paris Fashion Week was staged in the old retail space for Dutch retailer C&A and attended by Catherine Deneuve, Jeanne Damas and French rising actress Mathilde Warnier. The show offered further evidence of his masterful and surprising combinations, such as “grey marl sweatshirt fabric with iridescent sequins, and lavender silk duchess with faded denim jeans”, as Phelps noted in her review. “The offbeat, irreverent mix was the thing, but he also made a point of saying, ‘“every piece has to stand on its own. It’s important that it’s not just looking nice when it’s an outfit; every piece has to have its value,’” she wrote.

It’s an open secret that many pieces on the runway never end up hitting the stores. Dries Van Noten is one of the few brands, alongside Paul Smith, to take a different approach and produce every piece. Whoever takes the creative helm of the house will have big shoes to fill.

Originally published in Vogue Business.