Questionnaire: Dries van Noten
Q. What should stay the same? A. Love.
What images keep you company in the space where you work?
We only have images that relate to the collection we are working on. As a creative person, you need permanent emotional and cerebral input, but you don’t need an actual image in front of you in the form of a photograph or a painting. My inspiration comes from a wide variety of sources.
What was the first piece of art that really mattered to you?
My grandfather was an avid collector of neoclassical painting, and it was through seeing his collection in my childhood that my own passion for this genre was born. It is the genre itself, rather than a specific artwork, which matters to me.
If you could live with only one piece of art, what would it be?
The art of balancing priorities: between my passions and the duties of life.
What is your favourite title of an artwork?
Democrats Are more Beautiful (after Jonathan Horowitz) (2001), an oil painting by Elizabeth Peyton that inspired one of my menswear collections.
What do you wish you knew?
I wish I could sculpt.
What should change?
How we see one another.
What could you imagine doing if you didn’t do what you do?
This seems so improbable that I must leave the question unanswered.
What music are you listening to?
In the studio, the richness of prints, fabrics and forms means it would be too much to listen to music. But, outside, I live every moment of my life to a constant and eclectic soundtrack. My favourite time with music is always during my half-hour commute to and from work, when I listen to Studio Brussels, a local radio station that always introduces me to new music. This was how I came across Max Colombie – who performs as Oscar and the Wolf – and we ended up working on a fashion show together.
What are you reading?
Victoria Glendinning’s 1983 biography Vita: The Life of Vita Sackville-West.
What do you like the look of?
The leftovers on a table the morning after a dinner with friends.
What is art for?
Churning and soothing emotion.
Dries van Noten is a fashion designer based in Antwerp, Belgium. He has also created theatrical costumes, most recently for the New York City Ballet. In late 2016, he was awarded the Antwerp Province Prize for Culture.
First published in Issue 184