My first experience of the Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten was a men's overcoat that was part of the wardrobe for a film I was working on. The fabric had been woven to look 'worn out' to beautiful effect and the coat was tried on often during down-times. Since then I've followed his collections, always marvelling at his ability to combine pattern, texture and colour and create looks that trickle down for years to come.
The Museum for Decorative Arts in Paris just launched the first exhibition of Van Noten's work, and to pass through the displays is to be like Thumbelina in a jewel box of delights. Not only are highlights from his past collections on display, but also his inspirations such as: key pieces from other designers (Dior, Schiaparelli, Yves Saint Laurent, Lanvin), as well as paintings (Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, Elizabeth Peyton, Michaël Borremans, Leon Spilliaert), photographs, films and objects. The incredible curation makes the viewer understand Van Noten's process and his ability to weave disparate sources together into a cohesive collection:
"What I do is neither a photocopy nor an homage. It is all about being inspired by someone else's work and transposing it into a different setting, an operation that is as subjective as it is personal. I do not want to use art simply as decoration, as a mere backdrop. The aim is to link different elements together, thereby describing how I go about creating things."
"I love being a fashion designer and it is this passion for fashion that I wish to pass on to others and want people to feel here. Fashion is so rich and it is such an amazing occupation because we can draw on so many different sources of inspiration - just as a hummingbird feeds on a multitude of flowers."
Dries Van Noten : Inspirations runs from March 1 to August 31, 2014 at Les Arts Décoratifs.