Yesterday (22.06.2024) was THEE day. Despite the busy schedule of everyone who came for Men’s Paris Fashion Week, they all made sure to be free at 20:30 and travelled to La Courneuve for the final show of one and only Dries van Noten. 

The invitation read, “cocktail dinner followed by fashion show and afterparty”, and when brilliant minds Dries van Noten, Etienne Russo and Dennis Vanderbroeck come together, you know it will be a night to remember. Held at the industrial building where Dries hosted his 50th show two decades ago, we were led into a big hall and offered a glass of champagne. While the mingling of the guests started and hosts with trays of appetisers and champagne bottles were walking through the crowd making sure everyone is well fed and slightly tipsy, we could all admire all of Dries’ legacy in flashbacks projected on a huge cube in the middle of the space.

Dries van Noten is a powerhouse, there is no denying it. But he also is a designer who has remained humble and human. People love him not only for being a genius but for being a genuinely good person. I think the proof lies in the fact of how many fashion icons joined this beautiful event. From Ann Demeulemeester, Thom Browne and Walter van Beirendonck to Pierpaolo Piccioli, Diane von Furstenberg and Glenn Martens, from Diane Pernet and to Blake Abbie. Yet, no one was chasing anyone for pictures and autographs, everyone was friendly and calm — a true family gathering.

Around 30 minutes before the show, Etienne Russo passed by and when we chatted for a bit, he admitted that though he cannot wait for everyone to see what they’d created, it is a very bittersweet moment. And we can’t blame him. Eitenne and Dries have worked together for years on 29 shows and created some of the most beautiful moments in fashion’s last decades. 

via vogue.com

When we saw Etienne with a headset, we knew the show was about to start. Black curtains opened and revealed a long stripe made of silver paper with chairs alongside it on both sides. It was a beautiful reference to Dries’ 2006 Fall/Winter show. The paper was glistening under the light in a gentle movement. After everyone found their seats, the curtains closed behind us and the show officially started. 

Nostalgic, yet hopeful. Models that have modelled for Dries throughout his entire career walked down on silver paper, with Alain Gossuin, from Dries van Noten’s first show opening. I genuinely believe not a single eye remained dry. It is the end of an era, after all, and Dries delivered exactly what we wished for. A collection that is unapologetically him, with the right amount of minimalism, the right amount of colour and prints. Flamboyant, but not over the top, sheer organza layering and signature elongated silhouettes. Sartorial excellence of single and double-breasted suits mixed with a relaxed feel. Material looked live-in. English herringbone and heavy cotton were the perfect opposites to reflective foil and velvet. Floral prints inspired by suminagashi – a traditional Japanese marbling process alternated bullion embroidery and precious stones. 

 It was not only a collection but a tribute to his decades of creativity and shaping of the industry he is leaving. The brilliance of Dries is making the maximum effect look like minimum effort. Despite the collection carrying the name ‘All is transient’, in the world of fast paced trends and volatility, he remained true and consistent to himself, and this time around he made sure it was crystal clear. The whole collection was based on the idea of “clothes that move through life with us”. 

The closing of the show was one of the most powerful moments. The intense, almost grave-like melody throughout the show switched to David Bowie’s ‘Sound and Vision’. Models walking all together in a group, some holding hands, some clapping, standing ovation was inevitable. And when Dries appeared and walked the runway while waving to everyone and saying “thank you”, everyone made sure they clapped as hard as they could. Right before he left the runway, he looked over his shoulder one more time and smiled. It was emotional and heartbreaking, yet seeing him so happy, I am excited for him. Unlike many other designers who were forced out of their brands at the peak of their careers, Dries van Noten had one of the most beautiful exits, leaving when he believed the time was right. 

DRIES VAN NOTEN SS 2025 via wallpaper.com
Photo by Richard Bord/Getty Images

Black curtains opened again and the afterparty started. Instead of the cube, the middle of the hall was filled with a giant slowly turning disco ball. The first thing, we hugged Etienne and with tears in our eyes, thanked him for the beautiful experience. We grabbed a glass of wine (and some more afterwards), French fries and danced the night away. And yes Dries danced with us till the very end. The lines between reporting and just full-on bragging are at this point non-existent. 

That being said, it was a night none of us will ever forget. Dries’ admiration and loyalty for fashion and people who surround him is what made his brand so special and what everyone loves about him. 

And so, from the bottom of my heart, thank you Dries, we will all miss you! 

cover image: DRIES VAN NOTEN via GQ