It's a rainy December day in London when I join a Zoom call with Dries Van Noten.

We were meant to be in Antwerp, and the designer had planned an extravagant event involving dinner, drinks, and so much more to celebrate the launch of his beauty venture. Sadly, another COVID-19 outbreak meant that had to be scrapped.

This forced Dries to get creative. How could someone possibly experience beauty products through a screen? How could the thousands of hours of work that have been put into this project be celebrated if we couldn't get the full experience?

Then one day before our interview, a big package arrived.

It included samples of each of Dries Van Noten's 10 fragrances, two lipsticks, a size reference, as well as a booklet of color and texture swatches. In another box, was a whole A3-size sheet of chocolate, created using some of the ingredients used in the beauty range.

"So, I take it you're a big chocolate fan?" I ask Dries over Zoom. "I'm a big chocolate fan, yes. I mean, who isn't? I'm from Belgium, everyone is a chocolate fan!"

Beyond PR boxes and chocolates, the Dries Van Noten beauty line has been in development for a long time.

As a designer, he's always been in close proximity to beauty products when working on runway shows, but when working on creating your own, it is an entirely different experience.

"We started to do fashion shows in '92, so, and we've done 114 fashion shows. So, it's 114 discussions about how you want the models to look. For example, if the eyes are eyes are dark and the lips are bright, or more subtle. If there's lipstick, or not at all – all those things."

"There [are] a lot of beauty products out there," he explains. When presented with the opportunity to create a beauty line, a lot of steps had to be considered. "Is there still something that we can add to this? Is there still a message for me, and a way of looking at beauty and perfumes that I can still add something to?" The answer was, of course, yes.

"I use colors sometimes in a different way than other people do," Dries explains. "Without sounding pretentious, I have an experience where I can see those colors in the right way. If it's shiny, matte, and so on, it's really about finding what is right. Balance, that is. [It's] been a super interesting experience."

With beauty, it isn't just about the products – it is how they make you feel. For Dries, that meant creating something for everyone.

"We created 10 different perfumes instead of launching just one. 10 different ones because we design clothes for a lot of different people, so I don't want to dictate them."

Part of the beauty comes from discovery, and that's really what will decide how you feel when using a product.

"Do you have a favorite out of the 10?" I ask. "Don't ask that," Dries replies, and chuckles. "That's like asking someone who their favorite child is!"

After a bit of back and forth, he finally settles on just one. As the seasons have changed, Dries has gone through phases of each of the perfumes, but keeps coming back to one. "The Cannabis is truly for me still my favorite. I think."

Of course, with any beauty product, there's also the importance of packaging, and sustainability has been a topic within fashion, as well as beauty, for a long, long time now.

"From the starting point I really said, I don't want to even talk about it anymore," Dries explains. "It is a given in everything that we do."

The fragrance bottles are incredibly beautiful. Each one is split into two parts, with the base crafted from recycled plastic and the bottle itself in colored glass. Each bottle also comes with a key to unlock the cap and funnel, for easy refilling, which means no waste.

Each scent has been created from the idea of "impossible combinations." Unexpected pairings create each scent, and whilst developing the range, there were some smells that were truly, impossible.

"There are several smells, I think, you have to learn to appreciate," Dries explains. The collection initially started with around 24 options, which were then narrowed down to just 10.

"I always compare with learning to eat olives. The first olive you eat is really bad. And then after 10, you start to appreciate it," he explains. Coincidentally, I've only just started liking olives after my 23 years of trying.

"I think sometimes you're really gonna feel that they work for you."

Today, Dries Van Noten beauty launches worldwide through the designer's website. 10 fragrances, and lipsticks in 15 satin shades, 10 matte shades, five sheers, and one transparent balm.

"One of the most beautiful feminine gestures I think is a woman who applies lipstick. I think it's nothing more magic that you see the change in the sudden change in confidence when you can look at a woman, and she puts lipstick on, and she turns around, that is another woman. To me, that's magic."

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