Dries Van Noten & Elizabeth Peyton
Dries Van Noten has been designing his namesake label since 1986 and the first exhibition dedicated to the designer was held in 2014 at The musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris.
Fine art has been a constant influence in Dries Van Noten’s work. His S/S09 menswear collection, for instance, was entirely constructed around Elizabeth Peyton’s painting Democrats are More Beautiful .
The two-floor exhibition presented a glimpse into Van Noten’s creative process by including the originals paintings, textiles, videos, and photographs that inspired him including works by Damien Hirst, Victor Vasarely, Gerhard Richter, Yves Klein, Bronzino, and Picasso as well as designs by influences such as Schiaparelli, Dior, Kansai Yamamoto and Thierry Mugler. Film stills were also on display too such as Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange, Jane Campion’s The Piano and Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice.
It was really about my inspiration, how I work, the relation between the clothes and works of art.
Democrats Are more Beautiful, an oil painting by Elizabeth Peyton, inspired one of my menswear collections. I actually did a whole collection based on it. It was the men’s collection from spring/summer 2009, the painting was from 2001.
The painting has a feeling of precision, and a clarity of colour I really liked. So I put it on the table and said to my team, ‘This is next season. Do something. What’s the story of that guy?’ and some of them played with the colours, others with the lifestyle.
When I see [Elizabeth’s] work, it feels very intimate but also layered at the same time. I feel I haven’t gotten through many layers of Elizabeth.
I thought I’d build the exhibition around [my] inspirations. And then you dream of putting in artworks and the first confirmation you get for is one of the artworks of your dreams, like the Elizabeth Peyton–not any Elizabeth Peyton but the specific painting you asked for– that was amazing.
Sometimes it takes me years to fully realise what has influenced one of my collections. But that’s the way it works. I’m never too literal with my inspirations; I’ll start with a painting, a colour, a thought, a perfume or a gesture and slowly turn them into something different. And, above all, into garments that will be worn for years.