berluti ramps up the sex appeal
“It’s about making this Berluti man more sexy than the one I was working on before.”
For his sophomore Berluti collection, Kris Van Assche amplified the adventurous wardrobe proposed in his debut. “It’s taking things a step further,” the designer excitedly explained backstage, “I like to think it’s more fashion forward.” This was a bolder, sexier, sharper Berluti. “This is a man’s brand, there is no doubt, but it’s nice to play with seduction too,” he explained when asked about Gigi Hadid closing the show in a sleeveless suit tufted with ostrich feathers. “It’s about making this Berluti man more sexy than the one I was working on before. This is definitely more, more grown-up, more sexy. It’s about seduction and beauty.”
Freed from historic ready-to-wear archives, the Londerzeel-born, Paris-based artistic director is breaking the mold and recreating it in his own image. Throughout this collection he’s striking a balance between observing the artisanal heritage of Berluti, but also crafting an enduring luxury wardrobe for a new multi-faceted man (and woman too). “I am still making a new interpretation of the heritage, the patina, the embossed leather, but pushing things forward, almost making archive pieces that didn’t exist,’ Kris told us. “It’s definitely more Berluti than I could be, but it’s also more fashion. Why? Because I refuse to believe that Berluti can only be about timeless luxury, it has to be contemporary, it has to be relevant to now.”
For his Berluti debut, Kris's starting point was a trip to the Ferrara-based factory and the contrasting sight of old marble tables transformed by the craftsman and their hand-dying patina. Inspired, he painted his first collection in the multi-hued stains of their surfaces. This season he again turned to the Ferrara craftsmen and their stained surfaces -- “they are my atelier now,” Kris told us -- but this time he saw their work in technicolour so added fluoresces and acidifies to the palette. These enhanced hues elevated the classic tones. Fluorescent orange and terracotta, bright yellow and mustard, cobalt blue and navy, and intense violet and royal purple were all combined.
The sentiment of spectrum was echoed in technique too as the marble and patina stain motif of silk shirts was first woven into a jacquard, then printed with the marble pattern, and finally overprinted with the multi-coloured stains. For Kris, it’s all about a considered clash of worlds, old and new. As the new direction of Berluti is heightened, so is tradition. The patina suit -- originally inspired by the classic Alessandro shoe – was embossed with the maison’s heritage scritto motif. A largely indecipherable 19th century manuscript sacred to the Berluti archive, its handwritten letters found new life on leather tailoring, evoking Kris’s daydreams of archive pieces that never existed.
Elsewhere, a nail-head surface decoration was introduced in homage to the shoemaking core of Berluti, in the all-over embellishment of a leather suit, a sweatshirt, and on the sole of shoes too. “When I went to the factory where they hand-make the shoes, I was struck that the workers put the nails into their mouths as they work,” Kris explained. “I was inspired that this ingenuity is hidden so I wanted to use the nails as an embellishment.” Alongside the presence of the scritto, the nail-head detailing encapsulated Kris’s ongoing fusion of modernity with the Berluti's classic values. Without the archives of his previous storied houses to dip into and reimagine, Kris is imagining his own before tweaking them. So meta. Welcome to the new luxury.
Photography Mitchell Sams.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.