Interview | Kris Van Assche

Photo by Salvatore Caputo for MFFASHION

Kris Van Assche, in ten years I’ve transformed Dior Homme

By Giampietro Baudo - MFF Magazine for Fashion

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NOWFASHION + MFF Magazine For Fashion

Today’s Dior Homme runway show will be doubly special for Kris Van Assche, this year marks the designer's tenth year at the helm of the brand's menswear and the house also celebrates its 70th birthday. “I am so happy to be here at this special moment. My tenth year here, time has really flown and I’ve grown so much….I’ve transformed Dior Homme and Dior Homme has transformed me.” MFF spoke to the designer in a special pre-show interview. “It’s also the the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the fashion house by Christian Dior. A double anniversary that’s made me reflect a lot.” Starting with today’s collection, “I also wanted to pay tribute to the atelier”. With ideas for the next ten years, “Having fun...the past ten years have been intense and stimulating. Now I am more confident in my work I want to make everything more fun and relaxed.”

Taking stock on the first ten years…

Super positive. I am much happier than when I first started. There is less stress and less fear of making mistakes with this important heritage. I am happier now...I have understood the business and the visual codes of the brand. I’ve also gotten to know myself much better. I know exactly what I want.

And what does Kris Van Assche want for Dior Homme today?

He wants to explore the two spirits of the house: One that is more focused on formal tailoring and the other that is more fashion forward, which is essential for a brand like Dior. Everyone told me I was crazy for wanting to unite these two contrasting elements, but I have worked to make the two spirits of the house come together. I want this to continue in the future.

How much has menswear changed in the past ten years?

So much, above all brands have changed in their approach to it. Maybe they were scared of what was going on in the market and so they hid behind traditional tailoring, abandoning trends, and leaving them to new designers who’ve really come up and established themselves. Meanwhile, here, Dior Homme gave me the chance to explore both be a young kid in a traditional fashion house.

What’s your best memory from the past ten years?

It’s difficult, I don’t like to look back, I prefer the future to the past. Let’s say my last show, because it is the souvenir that lives in my most recent memory. But I am very happy with what I’ve done.

What’s your dream for the next ten years?

To have more fun. Sometimes working in a big fashion house can make you turn on autopilot. I’ve understood that it doesn’t have to necessarily be that way, and it’s for this reason that over the last couple of seasons I’ve wanted to take risks. Firstly by changing the show and the advertising but also the collection to a certain extent. I realised that what I was doing was OK but that I needed to change things up to get myself back in the game. To grow again. This is the train of thought I had when approaching the spring/summer 2018 collection.

What was your starting point for the new ready to wear collection?

After the past season of HarDior, I wanted something more sensual and innocent. I started with the idea of a young guy who goes on a night out with his friends for the first time. I wanted something fresh and spontaneous. The look of an adolescent who kind of puts the look together himself and chooses his own accessories. It’s a late night summer dream: going out for the first time without any restrictions but still with an innocent attitude. That was my starting point for this journey.

And where did it take you to?

An homage to the atelier at Dior as well as evoking a youthful world that is almost collegiate. This season the show is really split into two parts: the first celebrates the incredible work of the atelier in 3 rue de Marignan, where the tailors bring my dreams to life, and the second is young, cool and funny, sporty and active. A dialogue between the maison - the first part - and Kris - the second part.

The first part is a bit of a return to the roots of the brand...

The first 20 looks relate to the black suit and white shirt that are a fundamental part of the menswear DNA of the brand. After 10 years I was able to look at this iconic aspect without being scared.

And like the last collection, the look this season also features a collaboration with an artist…

Yes, this is a fundamental element for me. We worked with François Bard, a painter who uses traditional techniques to immortalize street and urban scenes. I like the idea of using the same approach: traditional and avant-garde, atelier meets street. I think it tells my story.