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Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten is stepping down as creative director at the end of June

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BRUSSELS (AP) — Belgian designer Dries Van Noten, who for almost four decades dazzled the fashion world with his luscious use of colors and fabrics, said Tuesday that he will step down as creative director of his namesake brand at the end of June.

Van Noten, 65, a master of blending the old with the new, said in a statement that the 2025 men’s spring-summer collection will be the last in his current role. He added that the women’s collection will be designed by his studio.

Van Noten’s successor will be announced at a later stage, he said.

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

Although he will relinquish his role as creative director, Van Noten will still be involved in the fashion house.

Fashion firm Puig acquired a majority share in Van Noten in 2018, with the designer remaining creative director of the brand, which has expanded into beauty and fragrance. Van Noten said Puig’s takeover has helped the brand to keep “blooming.”

“Like in a garden, you decide what to plant; and at some point, it continues to flourish,” he said.

Van Noten graduated from the fashion design course at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Belgium in 1981 and debuted his first collection five years later. His first flagship store opened in 1989 in Antwerp, the Belgian port city where he was born into a family of tailors.

As Antwerp developed a reputation of Europe’s capital of cool, Van Noten emerged as a major creative force as part of “The Antwerp Six,” a collective that also included Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee.

“In the early ’80s, as a young guy from Antwerp, my dream was to have a voice in fashion,” he said. “Through a journey that brought me to London, Paris and beyond, and with the help of countless supportive people, that dream came true.”

Van Noten made his debut at the Paris Fashion Week in 1991 with a menswear collection. His first womenswear show on the French capital city’s catwalks was staged two years later. Ever since, Van Noten has staged two womenswear and two menswear shows each year.

His Paris Fashion Week’s fall show last month was a visual feast of illusions and contrasts. The sleeves were cut to make them almost two-dimensional, an innovative play on perspective that challenges the viewer’s gaze. Sweaters seemed to animate, embracing their wearers in a dance of fabric and form.

This interplay of textures and colors created a dynamic energy and poetry that has become a Van Noten hallmark.

“Now I want to shift my focus to all the things I never had the time for,” Van Noten said. “I’m sad, but at the same time happy.”

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More AP fashion news: https://apnews.com/hub/fashion

Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press

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