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Kris Van Assche

Dialogues: Kris Van Assche

The Belgian born, Kris Van Assche may be more familiar as Dior Homme’s saving grace. Little did you know he’s also a big name on the fashion campus in his own right. For issue 57, we shot Mike Hadreas, aka perfume genius, exclusively in the designer’s self titled label, a medley of monotone suiting and sharp cuts. Here, Paris based Van Assche sits down to talk tight roping the line between a fashion house giant and spreading the joy of the Kris Van Assche brand extraordinaire.

Planet Notion: Would you say there’s a strong music influence in your work?
KVA: I would not say music influences my work directly. But that does not mean it is not important – I can spend a lot of energy on the soundtrack for a show. Music to a show is as important as sound is to a movie – it establishes a mood, an energy, an emotion. It is a way of putting words on the images.

PN: What were the last 5 things on your iPod?
Woodkid / Iron
Christine and the Queens / Cripple
Christine and the Queens / Amazoniaque
M.I.A. / Bad Girls
The Cure / Boys Don’t Cry

PN: What would your collection sound like if it was a band?
KVA: It would be a different band each season; each collection sounds like its own soundtrack.

PN: How do you differentiate between your work for Dior Homme and your own line?
KVA: I have developed an intuition which allows me to know which idea goes where. There is no precise definition, but I now like the challenge to be very “KRISVANASSCHE” at my own label, and very much “Kris Van Assche for Dior Homme” at Dior. It is not about being more or less free at one label or the other… I feel creatively free at both. It is much more about an attitude that I cannot really put into words.

PN: After several years, do you feel like you’ve mastered the balance now?
KVA: Yes, but it remains a work in progress.

PN: What was the starting point for this season’s collection?
KVA: For Spring/Summer, I had this man in my head, riding on his BMX, on Malibu Beach. His suit is comfortable, of course, and he has changed his shirt for a polo jersey one. He might be on his way to work, he might be on his way to anywhere. That is what I like about LA – people dress however they want, you can never tell what anyone does for their work by how they’re dressed. You can be covered in tattoos and still be a banker. It really is all about personality.

I like to think you can wear my clothes to any occasion, at any time. For Autumn/Winter, I re-worked a theme that I have often used – workwear. I played around with the contrasts of “blue-collar” and “white-collar.” The first used to do the dirty work and need protection gear, the second used to sit safely behind their desk. Only recently, the rules of the game have changed. That was the starting point for the winter silhouette.

PN: Do you approach the design of the footwear and the clothing differently?
KVA: No. All items of the collection and the collaborations – Eastpak (backpacks), Lee (jeans), Linda Farrow (sunglasses) – are closely related to one central theme. Accessories reinforce the silhouette; they are not collections on their own.

PN: Can you tell us a little about how your design process works? What’s the most rewarding part of it for you?
KVA: Each season starts with new ideas and research but looking back over the past eight years, I can see it is the same man evolving. This imaginary ideal man grows with me, his taste evolves, but he is still the same man. It is, with a certain distance, what I appreciate the most about my own work.

PN: What’s your favourite piece from the SS12 collection and why?
KVA: The all-white silhouettes: the white jersey suit and white jersey polo shirt. It is very comfortable and smart at the same time.

PN: Who would be your ideal client to dress?
KVA: I enjoy walking past strangers in the street wearing my clothes. It is a strange but satisfying feeling.

PN: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming designers?
KVA: Not really… I guess it would be to surround themselves with the right people. You can’t do it on your own.

PN: I’ve heard that you’re a big fan of London – what do you love about the city and its fashion?
KVA: I guess in a way, it is a little like LA. It is all about personal style and attitude. I also love London because some of my closest friends live there.

PN: What is it that you think makes your work resonate with Londoners so much?
KVA: I have no idea, but I like the fact that it does!

PN: Tell us a bit about what you’ve got coming up later in 2012?
KVA: I have two shows coming up by the end of June and the collaborations on accessories that I mentioned before continue – all that adds up to much more than one full time job. I’ll have to travel a little as well. I am not really looking for other side projects. My big project is to do my job(s) well.

Interview by Seb Law
Portrait by Gaetan Bernard


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