Dries Van Noten stepped down from his eponymous label nearly 40 years after he founded it after presenting his Spring/Summer 2025 menswear collection on June 22 during Paris Fashion Week. Even if it wasn't his final runway show, it would've been a big deal.

Before a vast crowd of famous fans that included designers like Thom Browne, Glenn Martens, Neil Barrett and fellow Antwerp Six members Walter Van Beirendonck and Ann Demeulemeester, Van Noten's silver leaf runway — a reference to his golden Fall/Winter 2006 catwalk — was left undisturbed for longer than expected as the designer soaked up deserved congratulations and goodbyes backstage.

But the wait was worth it.

Dries Van Noten's SS25 menswear collection is quintessential Dries Van Noten: enthusiastic material interplay epitomized by pleasantly odd translucent coats melding with sumptuously human tailoring cut way loose.

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Indeed, the co-ed runway — menswear ain't just for men — was stacked with signature Van Noten pieces like blazers and knee-length shorts in wide silhouettes that emphasized the ease inherent to Van Noten.

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Colors included some of Van Noten's favorites, like magnolia yellow and rich maritime navy, while floral embroidery provided a taste of gilding. But though Van Noten's oeuvre is so often boiled down to color, pattern, and print, they're only part of the many tools in his creative arsenal.

It's not just that Van Noten uses these elements but that he utilizes them in conjunction with other masterful techniques, amplifying the appeal of his easy sweaters or enhancing the drape of a patchwork shirt.

SS25 put it all on display and it was everything you could ever want from a final Dries Van Noten show.

The Dries Van Noten brand will continue, by the way, a point underlined by the giant disco ball unveiled at the presentation's end as if to say, "Hey, the party ain't over."

Or perhaps it was a tacit reminder to celebrate Van Noten's legacy rather than mourn his departure.

So, yes, Van Noten is stepping down from his design role though he'll maintain oversight and lend a helping hand here and there. But the 66-year-old designer is effectively retired. As retired as the ever-restless Dries Van Noten can be.

The DVN SS25 womenswear collection that debuts later this year was created by Van Noten's in-house design team, the first to be produced sans the man himself. And Van Noten's successor will be named in due time.

“I have been preparing for this moment for a while," Van Noten said in a statement earlier this year. "I feel it’s time to leave room for a new generation of talents to bring their vision to the brand.”

So, though you can expect to find Van Noten idling away in his expansive gardens while the rest of the fashion industry churns and hustles, you can also expect Van Noten to leave his line in capable hands.

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Late last year, he told me that much of his studio is comprised of young designers, creatives and artists. Hardly any of them were above the age of 30.

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“Youth is not only about age but mentality," Van Noten said. "Newness is something you haven’t seen before; it has nothing to do with age.”

Indeed, as much as Van Noten's label represents Real Fashion, fueled by sincere craft and respect for clothing (and its wearers), it also represents freshness, progression, energy.

You don't last four decades in fashion without staying ahead of the curve.

Not that Van Noten consciously sought to outpace anyone, though.

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The only thing that mattered to him was personal satisfaction — it just so happened that the stuff that excited Van Noten also delighted consumers and critics alike.

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“I want to see, I want to learn, and I want to understand what young people are doing," he told me.

"[My creative team] has to surprise me, they have to shock me. Absolutely important. Otherwise I get bored, and I don’t want to get bored.”

Easy enough to think of Dries Van Noten as some austere high fashion label. Look closer and find the opposite: thrilling details, far-reaching influences, electrifying surprises hidden for those who seek.

Van Noten ceaselessly pushed himself to outdo each prior collection with clothing riotous in its vivacity and staggering in its wearability.

Yes, each season would include plain T-shirts, unfettered jackets, classic trousers.

However, Van Noten would also perpetually wow with explosive sequins, sumptuous organic textiles, exquisite embroidery and dynamic silhouettes that almost don't look Dries Van Noten, if only because they upend the notion of what you might have thought Dries Van Noten might produce. The journey was the destination.

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“It’s not earning money that gives you true energy," Van Noten explained. "No, it has to be that the creative side stimulates you.”

Words to live by.

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