As the designer applies the finishing touches to his latest vision for Dior Homme, Kris Van Assche exclusively holds up a mirror to spring/summer 14 with Tension. Look closely...
"Lots of choice within one idea," is how Creative Director Kris Van Assche described Dior Homme spring/summer 14, a layered labyrinth of delicate daydreams waiting to be discovered. Understatement, attention to detail, and an almost unwaveringly dark palette are well honed signatures of the designer but this felt different. It was light, free and playful. A filter of summer haze placed over Kris' laser-like gaze. The mirrored maze of a catwalk confirmed it. The front row was persauded by games of peek-a-boo as designs were protected from view before being revealed, reflected and refracted throughout the light-filled space. Ultimately, the audience had to look closely. In doing so, its sartorial suggestion and subtlety became clearer. Now, as Kris prepares to share the next chapter of his Dior Homme narrative in Paris this afternoon, he asks you to look again. Transporting us back to last season with an exclusive series of images entitled Tension. Here, shares the backstage postcards from Phil Meech and Nicolas Santos' manipulations before talking about the man in the mirror.
Tell us about spring/summer 14.
The general idea was to put a sense of fun, a certain lightness into a rigorous wardrobe. The shorts suit silhouette would be the epitome of this evolution as it expresses the tension between the formality of tailoring – from the building of the suit to the use of satin for example - and the ease of casual.
Exactly. An expression of freedom. It’s a new expression of masculinity.
Control is a house signature; as a designer do you prefer to work within certain boundaries of tailoring?
In a house such as Dior Homme, tailoring is by no mean a boundary. The fact of having ‘in-house’ ateliers is an exception in French luxury menswear. I feel very fortunate to be able to count on the presence and know-how of tailors, pattern-makers and seamstresses. I look at them not only as extraordinary executors, but as a part of the creative team. The best ideas appear throughout the working process. Often, when I see a piece in the making, it will give me ideas for new designs… Also, there are always different ways of going about a sketch…
The work of John Chamberlain influenced the metallic patchworks. What attracted you to his work?
For some years now, I have been exploring the contemporary art scene. And I find John Chamberlain’s work quite interesting as he pushes the boundaries, as you would put it, of abstract expressionism and gives it tri-dimensionality. His work on volumes and reflections was therefore very inspiring.
With their collage manipulation, Phil's images reflect the mirrored maze of the show it. How closely did you work with him on the Tension images? Was it a free brief or a closer collaboration?
This series was shot during the show, backstage. So the energy of the show was there. I really like how Phil can catch this particular moment. So, it was more a "carte blanche" than a very strict brief. Then I've asked Nicolas Santos to work on a collage that would reflects the intention and the tension of the collection. I’m very happy with the result.
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
I see the right man at the right place at the right time.
The collection is quite obsessive in its quiet change. Away from the realms of menswear, what was the last thing that obsessed you?
I wouldn’t describe it as an obsession, but I have a growing interest in design: I love to go to shows and galleries to discover new talents. It is really inspiring.
Away from the world of tension and obsession, how do you relax?
I have learned to not take stress home. It doesn't always work but I got much better at it.
Finally, did you make any New Year's resolutions? If so, do you keep tend to keep them?
I don’t believe in resolutions 'once a year'. I question things on a regular basis.