This is Dries Van Noten.
Dries, as we chummily call him, is a Belgian fashion designer, and has been designing since the mid-eighties. He is also a member of the Antwerp Six, a group of Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts-educated designers that blitzed London in 1988 and have been well-regarded and very influential since. (Another member of the group, and a big presence in our store this fall, is Ann DeMeulemeester.)
On September 9, Dries will be awarded the 2009 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion, a big honor with an awkward name. He told WWD, an industry trade magazine, that he's, "...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."
You can see what he's talking about:
His collections are notable for their sophisticated, typically rather sedate, colors -- but who can forget that leopard print from a few years ago? Or the gold? Or those scarves?
He's also known for tracking down artisanal craftsmen -- the Dries network is world-wide (Italy! India! Hungary!). He's careful and responsible about his sourcing, something everyone's become more conscious of, and it shows in each hand-crafted piece. As the tag on one of his scarves says, "This piece is handmade by artisans. All pieces are therefore unique and can slightly vary in tone, size, and finish. Some imperfections can show, inherent to artisan production process." These aren't McClothes, in other words. Each piece is special.