Fashion great Dries Van Noten will be presenting his very last show in Paris on Saturday to end a glittering 40-year career.

The universally respected Belgian, nicknamed the "Flemish master of fashion", took everyone by surprise when he announced his decision to quit this year.

Few fashion designers retire at the age of 66 in good shape and with a healthy business, as he recently told the New York Times.

"I feel it's time to leave room for a new generation of talents to bring their vision to the brand," he wrote in an open letter on Instagram.

He went on to say that he wanted to enjoy all the things he never had the time to do.

On top of his design business, Van Noten will also be leaving behind the beauty and perfume lines that he had created.

"After the men's show, I'm going to have another email address," he told the New York Times.

"I'm not going to be @driesvannoten any more. I have to find an Instagram name now, because my Instagram is Dries Van Noten, and that is the brand. It's strange. That I didn't see coming."

- 'Flowers come up everywhere' -

No details have been released about the spring-summer 2025 show, which will take place in La Courneuve, north of Paris.

It is expected to be a celebration of Dries Van Noten style: garments cut to perfection, clashes of colour and bursts of fabric and print.

"I'm a gardener, so flowers automatically come up everywhere: symbolic flowers, simply their colours, or real flowers," he told AFP in 2014.

He went on to say that he draws a great deal of inspiration from his travels -- in particular to India -- and from art.

"The starting point for a collection can be very literal or very abstract: a painting, a colour, someone's thoughts, anything at all," he told AFP.

At the end of February, Van Noten showcased a women's collection marked by a touch of dreaminess in pastel colours and loose silhouettes like nightwear.

It also featured bags as soft as cuddly toys, all presented in a construction site in Paris -- where he has been putting on shows since 1993.

The collections that will follow, including a women's collection due in September, will be created by the team at his studio, with whom he has worked for years.

- Antwerp Six -

The only condition set before his departure was that the group would remain in Antwerp, far from the Paris fashion glitz.

The Puig Group, which acquired a majority stake in the label in 2018, agreed to Van Noten's request.

Established in the 1980s, Van Noten presented his first collection in London in 1986, with the "Antwerp Six" -- a group of Belgian designers that took the fashion world by storm with their avant-garde designs.

The group, which included Dirk Bikkembergs, Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Van Saene, Walter Van Beirendonck and Marina Yee, are still synonymous with the genre today.

The son and grandson of tailors, Van Noten opened his first boutique in 1989 in the diamond capital of the world.