Kris Van Assche on his college-inspired S/S18 collection and the artist who helped create it
Many people will remember their early teenage years as a time of awkwardness: puberty, hormones, spots, feeling self-conscious... But it’s this period that Kris Van Assche drew on for his S/S18 collection for Dior Homme. He was thinking about the positives of that time, namely the newfound freedom experienced as you begin to escape your parents’ clutches and explore the world on your own terms. “I like this idea of a late-night summer; as a young kid you get to stay out late for the first time in your life and you feel like the sky is the limit,” the designer said shortly after the show this weekend. “You have a beer, maybe seduce somebody… It’s the first time in your life you realise the way you look is going to make a difference. You become body and clothes-conscious.”
Dior Homme S/S18
Van Assche has referenced a variety of subcultures in past collections – skaters, New Wave, the gabbers, the candy boys and more – but this time round, he was looking at college students in their own right, hence the Dior Homme collegiate symbols splattered across the collection. The designer focused on tailoring once more, but tailoring that was sporty and played around as a school boy might with his uniform. Sleeves were rolled up and in some cases lopped off entirely, while sporty sweatshirts were layered over suit jackets and worn with necklaces, bracelets and ribbons bearing the address of Dior Homme’s Rue de Marignan atelier.
For the second season in a row, Van Assche collaborated with an artist, this time working with Francois Bard – a French painter known for his icon-like portrayals of the contemporary world. “He’s an artist I’ve been following for many years,” he explained, “and he does exactly what I like: he has a traditional hand for the oil paintings but he paints very urban scenes – the hoodies, the baseball caps, the youth culture. I very much like that contrast.”
Contrast was, in fact, a key word this season. Van Assche was not only attracted to the oppositional elements in Bard’s work, but in the idea of a wardrobe that fused tailoring and streetwear. “It’s a mood of contrasts,” he said of his S/S18 offering. “I’ve never worked so hard on the tailoring and it’s never been as sporty as it was this time.” But why not drop the tailoring altogether? Sportswear is, after all, what many men choose to wear nowadays. Well, because Van Assche is fiercely loyal to the craft: “It’s about a clash between tailoring and streetwear. Everybody says nobody is interested in suits anymore, but I totally disagree.”