NATAN - Under the label of passion
Before I met Mr. Vermeulen I was full of pre-conceived ideas. I thought he would be out of reach and mildly involved into his art. A businessman, so speaking. So, I was totally taken by surprise and facinated by this visit to the belgian fashion house NATAN
Fair is to say that Mr. Vermeulen is the heart, the head and the soul of his company. A passionate man who can subtly hand over power when needed and elegantly control all the aspects of his fashion house. It’s his best kept secret : when others are looking for expansion at all costs and therefore have become administrators, Mr. Vermeulen has chosen to remain a creator and to have fun !
I asked him when he started to make clothes and he answered me with undisguised emotion « I started thirty years ago. We are celebrating it this year ». Initially, he was an interior designer. He chose to keep the big house he rented at the start of his career and decided to make it his HQ. The whole space is strategically used between the shop on the ground floor, the accounting room on the first level and the big space dedicated to creation and the making of clothes upstairs. Mr. Vermeulen confesses : « as high as we can go, up into the attic ». He made indeed a beautiful use of the space. Light pours in and that means a lot to him.
Just like any good strategist, he is assisted by skilled team captains knowledgeable each in their area of expertise : management, ready-to-wear dept, ads, etc… I noticed the team is almost exclusively feminine. Witty women, fashion designers, media specialists. Everything but extras ! I quickly realised that behind all the respect shown by the whole team to Mr. Vermeulen, there is a real dynamic exchange that regulates the process of communication and creation within the company.
And everything must go fast, very fast ! From the thought of the dress up until it’s being worn, there is no more than 6 months. It’s a race against the clock from the moment tendencies are defined to the moment fabrics are chosen, or from the first drawing to the first trying on. Here, like anywhere else, technology helped gain time. Every time a computer can be used, It will be. But it’s still a race…
I asked Mr. Vermeulen which moment he liked best within the process of creation and he said : « Ah, that’s the moment when the clothes become alive, when they are worn for the first time. Everything we imagine takes shape ». And what a shape ! Fabrics are gorgeous, cuts of garments are simple and sophisticated at the same time. But what struck my mind in the first place was the way light falls on the material. It’s a feast for the eyes.
In truth, « Couture » is not the only clothing line. Other lines have been developed to meet other expectations : NATAN Edition 5, for example, is stylish but casual. And NATAN+ makes clothes for more voluptuous women. One starts to dream… Why not a capsule collection within our reach ?
But in truth, how does Mr. Vermeulen define the woman he creates for ? Certainly not like a coat rack ! He is used to say to his team « if you cannot imagine this dress size 42 (Belgian), then forget it ! »He knows how to adjust to fast trend changes. He’s used to the fact that the cult of youth is affecting women of all ages. That is a real revolution in the world of fashion…
I then asked him what he was the most proud of up until now and he replied : « of course, it’s a great honour for me to design clothes for princesses. But what I like above all is all that is festive In a wedding, for example, I love to create dresses for the guests because my imagination can work freely. The bride has got a pre-defined idea of her dress and that’s another challenge. ». The pictures speak for themselves : more than clothes, they are works of art. A few accessories complete the assortment : mainly bags and shoes.
And within the fashion house, the young creator of NATAN’s jewels who’s totally passionate about her art : the maestro’s niece, Marie Vermeulen. She comes alive when she speaks about her career path and her craft. Little by little, she developed her talents. Now she makes the whole of the jewels for NATAN.
To conclude, I noticed NATAN is giving meaning to what they do and the family spirit is the key to it all. Each employee is involved and motivated by what he or she is doing. I also noticed that the fashion house is involved into charity, fair trade and sustainable development every time it’s possible. Not so bad…
Thanks again to the whole NATAN team. And, in memory of this special moment :