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Kris Van Assche (Classic Dialogues)

Perhaps better known for captaining Dior Homme post-Slimane, Paris-based designer Kris van Assche’s own brand has quietly become the go-to brand for understated simplicity with a masterful finish. SEB LAW talks to a designer at the top of his game.

We caught up with Kris just after his AW12 Paris shows, eager to find out how he oscillates so successfully between his work for Dior and his own line “I have grown an intuition which allows me to know which idea goes where,” he tells me. “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 under words.”

The thing about van Assche is that he takes your questions, thinks carefully about them and responds is a measured, compelling tone. He’s not one for flippant comments, and though he clearly takes his work seriously (as you would in his position), he’s also open-minded enough to grasp something in what you say and thread it out into something grander than you could have imagined. For example, on how he sees the relationship between music and his designs: “I would not say that music directly influences my work,” he says, “but that does not means 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, and energy, an emotion. It is a way of putting words on the images.”

Van Assche approaches the design of his own collections with the kind of grand artistic vision that you’d expect from someone at the helm of an international fashion powerhouse. After almost a decade in the industry, he’s perfected the balance of creativity and commercialism, producing everything from high-end garments to high street collabs (his long-running Eastpak project is a fave in the Notion office) while gradually evolving his aesthetic. “Over the past eight years, I can see it is the same man evolving,” Kris explains. “This imaginary ideal man grows with me, but he is still the same man. It is, with a certain distance, what I appreciate most about my own work.”

This gradual evolution has resulted in a certain rebellious grown-up aesthetic; a man with an innate sense of style and infinite cool. Basically the man we all aspire to be, one day. But who is this ideal Kris van Assche man? Appropriately, what van Assche himself likes about his clients is their anonymity. “I enjoy walking past strangers in the street wearing my clothes; it’s a strange but satisfying feeling.”

- Interview by Seb Law

FIELD NOTES

  1. Van Assche’s collabs (jeans with Lee, luggage with Eastpak and sunglasses with Linda Farrow) are both legendary and lustworthy.
  2. Kris is a graduate of the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, alma mater of the infamous ‘Antwerp Six’ group of designers.
  3. The AW12 collection sees Kris expanding beyond his usual monochromatic palette and featuring garments in a gorgeous midnight blue.


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