Dries van Noten on Being Inspired by the German Tourist

Dries van Noten
Portrait of Dries van Noten by Mario Lombardo

 

As a fashion designer, Dries van Noten is frequently inspired by non-European subjects, leaving the fashion press to refer to his work as “ethnic”. Nonetheless, what’s certain is that the 57 year old never censors his imagination, as audiences attended his exhibition “Inspirations” could witness. In Sleek, Van Noten talks about his creative process and why he commissioned Argentinian artist Alexandra Kehayoglou to make a carpet that looks like moss. Initially only created for the presentation of his Spring–Summer 2015 collection at Paris fashion week last year, the carpet was also exhibited during Berlin’s Gallery Weekend in May 2015. Sleek talked to the designer about his collab and being inspired by eco warrior, “back to nature” German tourists.

 

‘In my opinion, it’s really collaboration that creates inspiration’

 

What inspires you?
The process of inspiration isn’t systematic, and there’s no way of predicting how or when it’s going to happen, but one fear that I have is that my sources of stimulation will become predictable, because I need to keep my work fresh. Even when I begin to make a new collection today, I still want to feel a sense of challenge, and it’s important that my team feels like that too. In fact, I regard this as my primary role. It’s my responsibility to challenge them, push them and stir their imaginations so that they surprise me with new ideas. So in my opinion, it’s really collaboration that creates inspiration. That said, it can come from everywhere – a movie, an artist, an artwork, a smell, a song, a feeling, so many different things.

 

‘Sometimes you see something that instantly helps you to connect all the different things you’ve been thinking about’

 

Carpet by Artist Alexandra Keyahoglou, Dries Van Noten, Gallery Weekend Berlin
Carpet by Artist Alexandra Keyahoglou, Dries Van Noten, Gallery Weekend Berlin

 

What’s the story behind your collection, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”?
It started when my partner and I saw a group of German tourists coming back from Thailand in Madrid Airport . They were those hippy, eco warrior, “back to nature” types wearing sandals, hand-woven garments and hi-tech jackets; the type of people that don’t care if their outfits don’t match because they have different values, and that got me thinking. After that encounter – and inspired by hippy events like Stonehenge, Glastonbury and Burning Man – we started to introduce things like rainbow effects and woven emblems of the sun into the collection; we’d already been using the idea of “sun worship” as theme too, and it just seemed to work. It’s strange. Sometimes you see something that instantly helps you to connect all the different things you’ve been thinking about.

 

Let’s talk about the carpet Alexandra Kehayoglou made for you. How did that happen?
Well, I had this this vision of models floating over a moss carpet, so we started to experiment with real moss, gluing it on the catwalk, but it was impossible for the models to walk on. Then we started looking around on the internet and found a small carpet that Alexandra Kehayoglou had made in the past. “This is it!” We thought. After she agreed to work with us, she had exactly three weeks to finish it. She worked day and night with her team to make it possible. But it was worth it, the carpet is such a beautiful object.

 

Taken from Sleek 56

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