Dries van Noten was born in Anvers, Belgium in 1958. He was born into a family of tailors; his father owned a menswear shop and his grandfather was a tailor. He studied at the Antwerp Fashion Academy where he graduated in 1980.
In 1985, Van Noten started his own company and began designing womens wear. His career as a designer took off in the following year when he presented his first menswear collection in London, together with five other Belgian designers ("The Antwerp Six"). He currently creates four collections a year (men's and women's, both for summer and winter) and used to have a children's line (no longer in production). He received orders from Barney's in New York, Whistles of London and Pauw of Amsterdam.
In 1988 he received the Award of the Flemish Community for his work.
Dries Van Noten works and lives in Antwerp. He has several shops, the first one being "Het Modepaleis" which opened in Antwerp in 1989, followed by shops in Hong Kong and Tokyo. He sells to around 500 shops around the world; his company is entirely self-financed.
He debuted in Paris in 1991 for his Mens collection, and in 1993 for his Womens wear.
He is a minimalist who favours spare lines and dark colour palettes. He has built up a large following in Belgium and has now also attracted international attention.
His work is characterised by a creative use of prints (often ethnic), colours, original fabrics and layering. He has a passionate and faithful following despite the fact he does not advertise. He uses figure-defining fabrics such as jersey and silk knits and is known for layering jackets over dresses and trousers. He also produces sleek suits with jackets buttoned on the diagonal, long duster coats and matte sequined evening dresses. Van Noten is known for his eclectic use of themes. Prints and embroidery decorate Eastern and Western garments, a sarong is placed over trousers, a sari under a double-breasted jacket.