“As night-fall does not come at once, neither does oppression. It is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become victims of the darkness” The screen is blank and Justice William O. Douglas’ words appear right there, white and blinding. They welcome and guide us through the space base Gattaca where eugenics has turned man into a perfect being and where dreams, now, are only for the brave, for Vincent Freeman, the movie’s protagonist and for Kris Van Assche, creative director for Dior HOMME.

Kris is certainly a dreamer, but a realistic one. He arrived in Paris in 1998: young, ambitious, resolute. In 2000 he was accepted into the great Christian Dior family. In 2004, he created the KRIS VAN ASSCHE house in Paris. In 2007, he was at the helm of the male division of the brand. He entered on tiptoe, noiselessly.  He broke into the international fashion system and turned himself into a phenomenon, an enfant prodige, a model to be imitated. He is among the most popular, talented and innovative designers of the moment. The collaboration with Dior HOMME allows him to explore distant worlds, to probe the unfathomed, to upset and reinterpret the old fashioned concept of elegance.

Conceptual minimalism, essential practicality, meticulous attention to detail. His clothes tell a story, his own, inflated and exalted by the historical baggage of the maison he represents. He has a personal style, full of passion for that art which is functional and never purely aesthetic, a style that reveals Belgian origins. It is also a style contaminated by Parisian couture’s fancy eclecticism, a style – as he himself says – that is minimal baroque – absolutely, unquestionably one projected into the future!

For A/W13-14 he presents the Dior man – a kind of superman. He is genetically engineered to be the best, just like ‘the valids’ conceived by Andrew M. Niccol. But there is a difference – Dior-Van Assche’s drone has a human soul and this is the great conquest. He is a perfect being capable of feeling – getting excited, being passionate…

And so – while in an aseptic, surgical atmosphere icy-eyed cyborgs parade – Our Darkness by Anne Clarke rings in our ears to remind us that after all there must be passion in life – always!


Fucking Young! – How, when and where was your love of fashion born? 

Kris Van Assche – I grew up in a conservative environment with little space for creativity and personality. I must not have been much older than six when I first started questioning the clothes I was supposed to wear. I realised somebody was making them, and I wanted to be that person. I quickly got attracted to cities like Antwerp or Brussels, where so much more seemed to happen than in my hometown. At the age of 18,I moved to a tiny flat in the centre of Antwerp and entered the Antwerp Fashion Academy. It was the first time I really felt at home.


FY – You attended the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp where you nurtured and developed a natural tendency for the visual arts. What role does art play in your life? In what way is it able to influence and enrich your profession as a designer? Can fashion be considered an art?

KVA – I like the side of art that is about intuition and emotion. I don’t think of myself as being ‘a collector’ because it has such a speculative undertone… I like to think that we can become what surrounds us. Even my apartment is in a constant state of evolution… I recognise a clear link between what touches me in the work of certain artists and the evolution of my own work. I don’t question the link between fashion and art. There is no precise definition to be made about that. Personally, I am comfortable with the term ‘fashion designer’ as it makes for a natural link to ‘design’.


FY – Who is the Dior Homme man of today? What does he want to represent? Who could embody the spirit of the maison?

KVA – Things have changed quite a bit since I arrived over six years ago. Now, there is no longer only one type of ‘Dior Homme man’, but several styles of men. They read different books, have different jobs and different needs. This is both the most difficult and interesting part of my job. I like the idea that we can dress both very demanding business men, who have eye for cut, detail and quality, and fashion fans, looking for strong identity pieces with high creativity. Those diverse demands inspire me: I have often used elements from a structured, tailored jacket to create the strongest fashion pieces. And the younger clients, with their desire for more comfortable, fluid clothes have influenced the traditional clothes where I have introduced a less stiff approach.


FY – 2013/14 = Minimalism, a northern European tradition… The hyperborean designers have in a few years managed to get out of the way among the big names of fashion by getting space and acknowledgement on an international level. you are Flemish belgian but Parisian by choice since 1998. With mastery you combine the simplicity and rigor of the Nordic style with the elegance and eclecticism of French fashion… but how could we really define your style?

KVA – The more minimal, conceptual side to fashion I grew up with in Antwerp makes for a unique mixture in my head with the Parisian, more baroque side. It has actually become an inside joke between my assistants and me… they describe my style as ‘baroque minimal’.


FY – Let’s talk about the latest A/W collection you have created for Dior. An essential, elegant and practical collection. A collection in which the zips replace the buttons, the cuts are clear and the silhouettes minimalist. A collection dominated by black, charcoal gray and navy blue. Would you like to tell us about it?

KVA – What I wanted to convey in the collection this season is rigour, calm and control. I liked the idea of self-improvement, of athleticism and how that would relate to the clothing. In many ways the genetic codes of the house come down to the idea of a slim-fit black suit, white shirt and black tie. I wanted to see how I could modify and tweak those codes, like genetic engineering.


FY – On the catwalk we have seen men looking like drones, perfect beings ready to face the future to come. They are the protagonists of a new Gattaca where, in the end, willpower is the only thing that allows the players to win and overcome obstacles… Tell us about this suggestion. How and when did you get inspired?

KVA – I believe in the notion of ‘mens sana in corpore sano’ and on how it is a strong message for our times. The Dior Homme man of now works on who he can be and how to improve himself, both outwards and in- wards. He is not nostalgic for the past, for an idea of lost youth, but is moving forwards into the future. He looks to the future and is confident of this future. This is a confident, self-made man in multiple ways. He’s a self- made superhero.


FY – What is the most representative item in the collection?

KVA – The nickel buckle is a frequent motif of protection in the collection – like a safety belt – delineating the waist – while the triangle signifies hierarchy and belonging to an elite group.


FY – This interview will accompany the cover story of this issue inspired by The Future… The A/W 13-14 Dior Homme collection has been rightly called “fashion of the future”. How should your clothes be interpreted to create a link between magazine and maison and what is the message that kris van Assche would like to convey to Fucking Young!’s readers?

KVA – “There has to be passion!” Declares Anne Clark in ‘Our Darkness’ (A/W 13-14 Dior Homme soundtrack) and that really registered with me. Everything is an order, an imperative in that song and she’s right! “A passion for liv- ing, for surviving.” After the last ten years that have felt really robotic in a way, it feels time to make definite statements – and to be optimistic as well.


FY – Speaking of the future, I can’t not ask you… How does Kris Van Assche see his own future?

KVA – I am quite confident about the future. I managed to lead the Dior Homme man into new territory, my territory. It’s a creative, luxurious, chic and con- temporary direction, which fits the house of Dior and my perception of our times. I feel very comfortable with the direction things have taken and I see a world of opportunities ahead. At the same time, I have managed to lead my KRISVANASSCHE brand through tough times and we are doing really well! We actually just opened our first store in Paris.


FY – And that of fashion, especially if we think of the crisis and economic uncertainty we are experiencing?

KVA – The harder the crisis hits, the harder the need for creativity.


FY – An adjective to describe yourself.

KVA – I’m a realistic dreamer.


FY – Tell us about a book, a movie or an artwork that made you imagine and dream about the future… a 1000-year-in-the-future world where in that instant you felt able to live.

KVA – I particularly loved the last scene in Welcome to Gattaca where the main characters enter the space shuttle wearing tailored black suits. I like the idea of going to the future looking smart. I told you, I’m a realistic dreamer! That’s what the future is to me; it is not so far removed from where we are now.


FY – Staying on the subject of the future… What are your plans for the next few years?

KVA – My plans for the near future are about doing more and better of the same. I’m in this creative process where I’m constantly learning more about fashion, art and design. The more you learn, the more you know there is left to learn. It’s a very stimulating period and I am impatient for what’s next.


FY – The future is also about dreaming, so… What is Kris Van Assche’s secret dream? 

KVA – I just told you: more and better of the same thing.


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