28 July 2017



His vivid imagination knows no bounds…resulting in collections that are kaleidoscopic in their references” The Telegraph
Dries doesn’t try to be a star. His work speaks for itself and has made him one’
Frédéric Malle
He is a treasure and has to be treated as such” Iris Apfel
Described by the New York Times as “one of fashion's most cerebral designers.

This was just what I needed after a hectic Thursday afternoon of food-shopping in the heat and yet another failed attempt at keeping bored pre-teens entertained in the summer holidays. (Well, one bored pre-teen, anyway.) Ninety minutes of watching a rich, famous male fashion designer with a seemingly charmed life doing rich, famous designery things with his rich, famous friends and fellow designers.

Haha, I'm only joking. And bitter. Very, very bitter. As a matter of fact, Dries Van Noten, top Belgian fashion designer and the subject of the latest documentary from DOGWOOF, seems like a lovely, down-to-earth guy, with the sexiest European accent imaginable.

But don't get too excited, ladies, he's gay and he's been with his partner Patrick for, like, ever. The best part of thirty years, anyway, which is practically forever. And they seem to have a really strong relationship as well, which is nice to see. And their house...!

Oh my God, it's a freakin' mansion, with grounds so spacious it could probably accommodate my local park without any difficulty whatsoever. It's full of gorgeously-coloured blooms that Dries and Patrick nurture and cultivate themselves, although I'm sure they get a man in to cut the acres and acres of grass. That's what you'd call the grunt work.

There are little hidden pathways and copses of trees all over their fabulous garden and they use some of the flowers growing there to decorate their house, which is like a stately home on the inside only not as cold or formal and it doesn't have any velvet ropes sending you a tacit message not to touch the things inside.

In fact, all the beautiful furniture looks like it's meant to be sat on and enjoyed, likewise the lovely accessories and ornaments dotted around the place. Well, I definitely wouldn't sit on those, but you know what I mean. Everything you see is there to enhance life and make it more pleasing to the eye. It doesn't really give off 'don't touch' vibes at all, more welcoming ones.

It's easy to tell that the house belongs to two designers (Patrick's in fashion too) because everything is so well-placed and perfect-looking. And they cook proper meals and set the table properly for dinner with candles and flowers and everything and, although there is a television set visible, I doubt it's switched on over dinner.

The two lads probably sit and actually talk to each other over meals, saying things like 'How was your day?' or 'Do you know who called me today? You'll never guess, it was So-And-So from fashion college, I told him we'd meet him for drinks at the weekend' or 'Did you see the invite from So-And-So and Whats-his-face? Can you believe they're finally tying the knot?'

I'm not poking fun at Dries and Patrick here, by the way. I'm merely comparing their presumably gracious meals to dinner-time at my own house, which can make feeding-time at the zoo look like an elegant cocktail party at times. Only at times, mind you. Sometimes we can step up to the plate- and knife and fork- and eat together with something vaguely approximating civilisation.

Oh, and Dries and Patrick have the most darling dog called- I think- Harry, an adorable sort of terrier fellow who follows them everywhere, even into their offices where all the big important fashion stuff takes place. Should we talk a bit about that? I suppose so, as that's Dries' job and the real focus of the documentary. I was just so wrapped up in all the stuff about their fabulous house and garden.

Dries hit the big time in 1994-1995 and he's been wowing the fashion world ever since with, it seems, only one or two collections to his name that didn't go down quite as well as others with the customers. Mind you, what he considers to be his 'mistakes' would still be considered wearable by most regular folks, haha.

The film shows you Dries actually commenting in an in-depth manner on various collections he's done over the years, pointing out which ones he was pleased with and which ones he considers to be more of a learning experience, as in learning from one's mistakes, than an actual success.

The fashion world seems to be all about constantly working towards the next collection and everything else has to fit in around that. Dries would love a holiday or to take a season off but the spectre of the next collection would probably haunt him till he could think about nothing else. I greatly admire people who are that driven. It's what I strive for constantly myself in my writing. I don't have a massive staff around me helping me to achieve it, though, so I guess I'll just have to beaver away by myself. Ooops. Didn't mean that to slip out...!

Dries seems like a genuinely nice guy. He dresses in ordinary jeans, shirts and jumpers himself and he's not too uppity to fuss around the models and chat to them and put them at their ease before shows. He admits he gets nervous himself sometimes and he's modest too, taking only a quick little bow at the end of a show before disappearing immediately backstage again.

The models are all absolutely terrifying, by the way. Taller even than Dries, who's quite tall himself, with cheekbones so sharp you'd cut yourself on them, and that's just the women. The male models all look a bit androgynous but you'd be hauled up in front of a tribunal nowadays for asking them their gender or sexual orientation, haha. Just don't go there at all, is my advice...

I love the way that Dries is so organised, whether it comes to his fashion designing or his gardening. 'You have to make plannings and timings and (in the case of the garden) plantings.' Organisation is the key to doing good work. I also love the way he pronounces 'romance' and 'sophisticated.' So sexy.

I love too that his clothes look like clothes, do you know what I mean? None of the models wearing his creations look like they've been caught in a fight between a lampshade and a canoe somewhere in a dystopian future, which I appreciated the hell out of, and all the flowery dresses are simply gorgeous.

There was a pair of purple shoes in the film which I could be persuaded to swap one of my kids for. Though maybe not the smart one. The smart one will support me in my old age. I need that one.

Dries talks extensively in the film about his love for and use of colour and, as he says that he finds his inspiration 'everywhere,' I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that a lot of it comes from his breathtakingly beautiful gardens. A lot of his dresses look like flowers. I adore that.

It's fascinating to watch the man at work, this man who describes himself as being 'addicted to creating a moment of beauty, or an emotional moment.' Even after all this time he still strives to bring emotion and passion to his work.

He started out working in his parents' shops, though he quickly decided that 'creating fashion is much more fun than buying or selling it.' And it does look like fun, though it's clear how much hard work goes into it too.

If you've ever flicked through the pages of VOGUE or COSMOPOLITAN and wondered
just what it's like to be a hotshot fashion designer getting ready for his next big show, then now's your chance.

DRIES is a compelling look behind the scenes at stuff we wouldn't normally be privy to, and also stuff that just wouldn't be the same if we were merely reading it between the pages of a magazine, however glossy and stuffed with perfume inserts it might be.

Do the fat glossy magazines still do that? I used to love those. Go around all day smelling of Chanel No. 5, but on the cheap. Mind you, the last time I picked up an issue of COSMOPOLITAN it seemed to be going the way of the telephone directory and THE GOLDEN PAGES. Taking a stroll down Anorexia Lane, haha. It's the same with all print media nowadays. 

Anyway, do watch DRIES, dahlings. It's easily the best fashion documentary I've ever seen, and I've seen, like, three.

Key Information: Release Date: 17 July 2017 Release format: DVD and On demand Running time: 90 mins Catalogue no: DOG370 Certificate: Exempt

About Dogwoof
Dogwoof is the UK’s leading documentary film distributor and sales agent. Founded in 2004, notable Dogwoof successes include The Age of Stupid, Restrepo, Undefeated, Blackfish, The Act of Killing, The Look of Silence and Cartel Land. 2017 titles include Whitney 'Ca I Be Me' by Nick Broomfield, City of Ghosts by Matthew Heineman and SXSW winner The Work. The company recently launched its first film investment fund, focusing on the development & production of feature docs, remake rights and series, gearing up the company towards vertical integration.



Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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