Fashion journalist Veerle Windels wrote a coffee table book about forty years of Natan. The title, Edouard, not only honors the brand, but especially its founder and Brussels’ most famous designer Edouard Vermeulen.
What do we see in the book?
Veerle Windels: A mix of old and unseen footage. Don’t expect a chronological timeline, but a real viewing book. You also read about the doubts Edouard had during his career. I don’t know any designer who dares to question himself like this and still sets the bar high. And we bring testimonials from people who know him well, such as Queen Paola. She is well aware that she played a major role for Natan in the early years. She attended a first parade and immediately ordered three dresses.
How has the brand changed over the past forty years?
Windels: It has just remained very consistent and that is nice. The style that Edouard conveys remains classic, elegant and fairly minimalist. Yet he always dares to modernize. He knows how to surround himself with young people for his shows, marketing and design. At his last couture show in Paris, they suddenly showed up with jewelry by Christophe Coppens, who is now artistic director. That shows that he dares to reinvent himself. On a personal level, I think he has a much looser outlook on life than when I first interviewed him in the early 1990s. You feel that he is feeling better about himself. Maybe that makes him more creative.
He will not set major fashion trends. How does Natan stay relevant today?
Windels: A dress from Natan remains a bit of a dream for many women. You don’t have to be a princess every day, but sometimes you can wear something to feel like one for just one day. Edouard dresses the woman and does not impose anything. He was and never will be a designer. He is a man who is concerned with aesthetics, whether that is interior design or clothing. So far it has also been a very Belgian story. Someone like Dries Van Noten has customers all over the world and sets trends. You can’t say the same about Edouard, but that says nothing about his talent. He is a world unto himself. Anyone who enters his store can immediately supplement his wardrobe with garments that will last for years. That timelessness remains relevant.
How important does Brussels remain for the brand?
Windels: It is the place where everything started. Brussels was a revelation when Edouard arrived there as an 18-year-old from Ypres. He started as a decorator in the hall of a couturier in Avenue Louise and later started making dresses there. Today he still walks from his house to the office on foot. Brussels remains his home. That also has something to do with the elegance of the capital. It remains a bit like the Paris of Belgium.
Natan also celebrates his birthday with an exhibition. The exhibition ‘Natan 40 years’ runs this month until November 26 in the Vanderborght building.