In June, Dries Van Noten sold a majority stake in his eponymous label to Italian luxury conglomerate Puig, which also owns stakes in Carolina Herrera, Jean Paul Gaultier, Nina Ricci, and Paco Rabanne. “I have been searching for a strong partner for the company, which I have built for more than 30 years,” Van Noten said in a statement at the time. “I am especially happy that Antwerp and my team will remain at the company’s heart and center. Together, we are now ready to realize our dreams.”
Although Van Noten remains a “significant minority shareholder” in the company, there is always concern when new partners become involved that what was once beloved about a brand will become warped or be lost altogether. For the time being, at least, the new partnership does not appear to have inhibited the singular designer in any noticeable way. Indeed, the collection he debuted in Paris earlier today was easily as lovely as any he has shown in recent memory.
Granted, Van Noten’s collections are never anything less than the very apotheosis of chic, but this season had lightness and buoyancy that it’s pleasant to imagine sprung from the designer’s own recent good fortune — the colors were bright, the accessories were playful, and the styling was clever without feeling fussy.
It has only been a few months since the sale went through, so there are probably still significant changes on the way for the brand, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is a testament to Van Noten’s unparalleled design talent that he has been able to grow his company into a $100 million luxury brand without the advent of an “it” bag, widely available fragrance, or extensive licensing, but maybe now is the time. With Puig’s support, what’s to stop him from expanding into beauty, or becoming a more meaningful player in the accessories market. Sure, both those fields have felt congested of late — especially beauty — but there is still room for great products to make some noise and if anyone can create a great product, it’s Dries Van Noten.