We unlock the language of symbols and floristry at Dior Homme through the words of Kris Van Assche
“Last season was all about elegance in eveningwear, and I really wanted to bring it into the daylight, into the sun” said Kris Van Assche minutes after unveiling his crisply twisted Spring Summer 2016 collection for Dior Homme. The Belgian designer calmly unveiled the fourth chapter in an unspoken homage to Monsieur Christian Dior, a tale that started in Autumn 2014 when he sent pinstripe suits down the runway that had been lovingly embroidered by Vermont with the Lily of the Valley. That flower was Dior’s good luck charm, running a close second to the rose as his favourite bloom, with the latter becoming the centrepiece of this latest production in a fragrant feat of both fashion and scenography design.
"Dior is a couture house, so I am considering the man who exists next to that woman, in the shadow of that." - Kris Van Assche
"We had the idea of bringing the outside, inside – hence the indoor rose garden which is something quite eccentric, bourgeois, and French to do," explained Van Assche, of the 2,000 Fée de Neige (that’s ‘Snow Fairy’) rose bushes that framed the parquet runway in a diamond layout, subtly channelling the Argyll pattern found throughout the collection. Equally reflective was the impressive warped mirror that floated above, tranforming both the rose garden and models into spectres hovering above the Tennis Club de Paris. "There is an element of Versailles, those type of French-style garden with the mirrors especially. Dior is a couture house, so I am considering the man who exists next to that woman, in the shadow of that. This is why I insisted on the French-ness of this show,” he continued.
"His rebellion was presented through conformity, with an external perspective romancing on the wardrobe traditions of a truly Parisian man"
Subverting the Bourgeois Boy
Rose-gardening aside, Van Assche entitled this collection ‘In All Disorder, A Secret Order’, in a poetic turn away from what one might expect from a rebellious Belgian. Instead, his rebellion was presented through conformity, with an external perspective romancing on the wardrobe traditions of a truly Parisian man. "Last season I imagined this young kid taking his girl to the opera, and knowing all about sartorial wear, tailcoats etc." said Van Assche, of the show that he soundtracked with a live string orchestra last Autumn. "This season is about the same kid: he knows about the tradition of wearing a blazer, a sky blue shirt, the bourgeois Argyll pattern – he knows all those elements from the past (maybe from his father) but he mixes them with his own codes, streetwear codes, like camouflage, denim, sneakers, cargo pants."
"Mr. Dior liked roses, I love roses" - Kris Van Assche
Dior’s boy wonder strode confidently into the bright, airy set adorned with flower motifs, which joined the formal versus streetwear dialogue carefully honed by the designer. Elliptical black patches picked out with three white rose blooms were applied to down bomber jacket and shirtsleeves, or placed smack-bang on the breast (read: heart) pocket of a classic blazer. "Mr. Dior liked roses, I love roses, a fact which, mixed with this idea of the bomber jacket, formed the basis of the collection from day one. The bomber’s orange lining became one of the collection’s colour codes too."
"For me it is always about finding codes, menswear is full of them, and this is something I love" - Kris Van Assche
Despite the show never straying from its restrained sense of propriety, Van Assche layered subversive elements throughout that provided a welcome otherworldly touch. Complementing the rose patches, that strangeness came through an exclusive jewellery collaboration with Paris-based American sculptor Kristin McKirdy, whose work Van Assche has followed closely for several years. Known for her organic, curved ceramics that explore natural and classical French references, McKirdy created miniature pendant-sized pieces in the form of amorphic bulb-like joints with a pumice texture, their points glazed in the collection’s colour pops of red, orange and pale blue. "For me it is always about finding codes, menswear is full of them, and this is something I love," sais Van Assche. "In this collection, many of the codes are traditional, but it is the accumulation of those traditions that makes it both extreme and essentially about contemporary elegance.”