Dries Van Noten on How His Garden Inspires Him

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Dries Van Noten garden Antwerp fashion designer interview
Dries Van Noten in the garden of his home in Antwerp [Film still]

Dries Van Noten used flowers from his own garden to create prints for his Autumn/Winter 2019 collection. Here, watch a film showing the process of collecting, photographing and transforming these beautiful florals

Dries Van Noten has been gardening for almost 30 years. “For many years, I separated my work as a designer and a gardener as much as church and state,” the Belgian designer tells AnOther, “yet, I had often wondered how these two beloved worlds of my life could collide and collude.” Van Noten has long tended to his Antwerp home’s sprawling gardens, and for his Autumn/Winter 2019 collection he decided to create floral prints using photographs of flowers he’d grown there – finally uniting his two passions. In a short film documenting this process, we see the designer and his team picking roses, salvias, dahlias, delphiniums and more, and photographing the stems against plain coloured backgrounds. These images became printed fabrics that were then used to create silken dresses, lacquered trench coats, padded jackets and chiffon tops.

“There is a great beauty in a garden as it rests back after a summer of glory and beauty,” Van Noten says. “Colours fade a little, more imperfections appear and I thought to capture the beauty and poetry of this for these prints.” In this spirit, the designer did not shy away from the mildew and black spots that typically appear on flowers at the end of summer. This “gives the flowers reality,” he says, and the “strange beauty” that he enjoys. The aim here was not saccharine, romantic florals: the photographs, edited and turned into prints, made for beautiful garments with an edge. 

Van Noten acknowledges the contrasts at play between gardening and his work as a designer: “Mother Nature makes you wait, yet, fashion speeds on with abandon. In fashion, we must control the maximum – nature will always surprise,” he says. The designer has often turned to florals for his eponymous label’s collections, though never in such a personal way. For Van Noten, the highlight of collecting these flowers – and gardening in general – is capturing “a perception of beauty yet with imperfection”.

Watch the film below.