Bises for Dries Van Noten: Belgian Designer Honored by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Iman

On the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 9, right on the heels of getting the CFDA’s International Designer of the Year award last year, the Belgian designer Dries van Noten received FIT’s Couture Council Award for the Artistry of Fashion at Cipriani 42nd Street. His presenter was the actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, who arrived in a lovely violet skirt and blouse in a myriad of floral and leopard prints (typical for Mr. van Noten). 

Ms. Gyllenhaal was approached by a tabloid reporter who asked her if her little daughter, 2-year-old Ramona, likes rummaging through her closet.

“I’m sorry, who are you interviewing me for?” Ms. Gyllenhaal asked. The Transom couldn’t quite make out the answer, but then overheard: “Oh, you know, I’m sorry. The ones with the paparazzi pictures I just try to avoid,” she said, starting to move away. “I know it’s not your fault.”

Ms. Gyllenhaal told the Transom that she would not be attending Fashion Week because her daughter is starting school, but wanted to be here for Mr. van Noten. “I’m a huge fan of Dries’ clothes. I love them. I wear them all the time. I think he’s my favorite. I felt like he’s given me so many beautiful clothes and designed things for me and I really wanted to give something back to him.”

They’re not lunch buddies or anything. “I don’t think we’ve ever actually met! We always talk on the phone,” she said.

Nearby, the designer Phillip Lim was making the rounds. Mr. Lim is doing a men’s and a women’s show this year. “Being here is surreal right now. I just gussied myself up and ran from the fittings,” he said. 

The Transom wondered what he thought of the state of Fashion Week, a topic that has gotten much attention from designers and CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg.

“You have to have Fashion Week because [otherwise] there is no reason for us. You would be taking away the lifeline,” said Mr. Lim. “As far as shipments, I think the constant rush is a bit much. It should go back to being closer to the seasons.”

And what about Fashion Week becoming too consumer- and celebrity-oriented?

“I think it depends on your mindset. If you want to have a party, have a party, but just prioritize and compartmentalize,” he replied. 

The supermodel Iman, who was hosting a raffle with Barneys’ [and Observer columnist] Simon Doonan, said she was not attending shows at all this year, but she would be stopping by Rachel Roy, Stella McCartney, Dior and Barneys for Fashion’s Night Out. We asked whether she thought models look different nowadays.

“No! I’m a huge fan of today’s young models like Raquel Zimmerman and Chanel Iman and Coco Rocha,” she replied. “Everyone always says, ‘They don’t make models like they used to,’ but I have no idea what they’re talking about!”

When Ms. Gyllenhaal went up to present the award, she got shy. “I am a little nervous about being here today because I am not officially a part of the fashion world, but I like clothes a lot,” she began. She proceeded to tell a story about the time she asked Mr. van Noten to design her wedding dress in May for her wedding in Italy to actor Peter Sarsgaard. She described exactly what she wanted over the phone. But when the frock arrived a week before the wedding: “This is nothing like what I was picturing!” she thought. And not in a good way.

But a week later, when Ms. Gyllenhaal took Mr. van Noten’s creation out of the box again and put it on, she changed her mind. “It’s like he knows better than I do what is beautiful and sexy on me!”

Bises for Dries Van Noten: Belgian Designer Honored by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Iman