Dries Van Noten talks about the launch of his beauty line

Dries Van Noten compares smelling her perfume to eating olives. “The first one makes you go, ‘Ooh, what is that? he said on Zoom from his Antwerp studio. “But after that, you still like it. I think you have to learn to appreciate things, and sometimes you have to learn to appreciate my vision of beauty.

The fact that beauty can (and often should be) consciously achieved rather than immediately perceived has been a defining characteristic of Van Noten’s work since he launched his first fashion collection in 1986. The Belgian designer is a connoisseur of contradictions , with an unparalleled ability to synthesize wearable art. opposites – loose streetwear silhouettes and impeccably tailored tailoring. The collections are influenced by the intellectual (he once based an entire season on the painting of Elizabeth Peyton, Democrats are more beautiful (according to John Horowitz)2011) and the mundane (prints made from iPhone photos taken by his team), while styles from disparate pasts (19th century dandies, 70s Glam Rock) are recovered and reworked to create resolutely modern pieces.

The story behind Dries Van Noten Beauty

Van Noten in his vast textile workshop in Antwerp

The most crystalline expression of Van Noten’s penchant for “impossible combinations” is unquestionably his use of color and pattern. He produces all his own textiles (the portrait shown here was taken from his shop) and his particular genius as a designer lies in his ability to combine textures, patterns and colors that for anyone else , would seem inherently false. Take, for example, her latest S/S 2022 collection, which paired psychedelic screen-printed buttonholes with flapper fringe outfits of seafoam green, tangerine and royal blue.

The new Dries Van Noten Beauty sees the designer translate his unique understanding of color and texture into a new medium and create a beauty line unlike anything in the industry. “There’s so much beauty out there. Can we still do something? Van Noten wondered before casting the line. “For me the answer was yes, we can tell a different story. with my fashion collections, I am a storyteller. My clothes make you feel certain associations and connections, because I work with all these contrasts, all these opposites.

Currently, the collection includes perfumes, lipsticks and complementary accessories, including compact mirrors, combs and clutches. The fragrance collection includes ten genderless scents, each created by a different perfumer and each their own unorthodox take on traditional floral scents. Flowers have been an enduring source of inspiration for Van Noten, with his collections regularly featuring prints, colors and shapes inspired by his own gardening. Before the noses get to work on the scents, Van Noten invited them to explore the vast, bucolic garden he maintains at his 19th-century estate near Antwerp.

“I worked with the fragrances the same way I would work with my team when we work on our fashion collections,” explains the designer. “So the idea was really that I gave them a pretty broad briefing. I told them my story. I invited them into our house and into our garden, to see how I work with plants, with flowers in particular – I take risks by combining flowers in strange ways.

Roses are Van Noten’s favorite flower, and the two different rose scents in the fragrance collection are emblematic of his idiosyncratic approach to beauty. Rosa Carnivora, by perfumer Daphné Bugey, is a creamy blend of rose, vetiver and patchouli, while Raving Rose, by perfumer Louise Turner, is a spicy take on the flower with an almost surprising infusion of pepper. Both scents “are kind of a kick in your face,” as Van Noten puts it.

“Something perfectly beautiful can also become boring,” he continues. In many ways, these fragrances are an attempt to revive the inherent beauty of flowers through surprising accords. This approach is reflected in the packaging of the bottles, which juxtapose patterns taken directly from Van Noten’s print collection to visualize the essence of each fragrance. For example, Voodoo Chile is a fresh blend of rosemary, patchouli and cedarwood that comes in a cerulean blue glass bottle with a silver base engraved with herb leaves. Soie Malaquais, a blend of chestnut and silk accord, is contained in a dark burgundy bottle with a Delft blue pottery base.

Parfums Dries Van Noten Beauty, from left Jardin de l’Orangerie, Fleur du Mal and Voodoo Chile

This two-tone packaging is found in lipsticks, which are the first element of what will eventually become a full-fledged make-up range. The lipsticks include 15 satin shades, ten matte shades, five sheer and a sheer balm. For Van Noten, the development of lipstick shades was a natural extension of his experiments with the color and texture of clothing.

“It’s really about finding that balance between the brightness of the colors, and of course, with my background in fabric design, I know very well how to balance those things. It was very interesting to see the colors and discuss the density – whether something should be more glossy or more matte, and how we could go with it. The resulting shades range from classics like matte cherry Crafted Red, to bolder colors like charred eggplant in Bohemian Scarlett or Barbie-esque Neon Pink, to unconventional shades of blue and green soon to be released.

Van Noten’s beauty collection is a clever reiteration of his iconic vision of beauty. One that is contradictory and compelling or, as Van Noten puts it, “what is beautiful to me may be very ugly to you, and vice versa”. Something that is considered by many people to be beautiful, I think it’s boring. This is why I like working on contrasts so much. I like to have strangeness in my beauty. §

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