Interview: Kris van Assche Of Dior Homme
In an exclusive interview, Artistic Director Kris van Assche talks about the latest collection and his take on Dior Homme.
ESQUIRE: How would you say your collections for Dior Homme have evolved over the years?
KRIS VAN ASSCHE: My constant challenge at Dior Homme is to embrace the range of men who can connect with our House. My aim is for each and every man to be able to express his own individuality within the Dior Homme universe. I don't believe in fashion diktats.
ESQ: When you start a new collection, where does the inspiration come from?
KVA: Creation is an ongoing process. Everything might become a source of inspiration, whether it be an exhibition, a movie, a conversation I have with our atelier... My responsibility is to transform inspiration, to translate it into a modern grammar, words and sentences being a wardrobe and its accessories.
ESQ: Is there always a historical reference in your collection?
KVA: Dior Homme is a very civilised House, irrigated by French culture and our own DNA. History is part of modernity. So I expect there is always a reference to history in my work, even if it's not a literal one.
ESQ: For Spring/Summer ’16, there is an exploration of sportswear, where did the idea come from?
KVA: My work has always been informed by my research on menswear codes. Sport is one of them, and for some seasons now I have been challenging the codes of sportswear using the codes of traditional sartorial elegance. Playing with these codes is not only an interesting experience, it's the expression of modernity. This very precise and unique combination defines the contemporary elegance and allure of Dior Homme.
ESQ: Your menswear is very precise and almost orderly. Where does that come from? Do you think the Dior Homme man embodies that kind of attitude?
KVA: At Dior Homme I am fortunate enough to work with an in-house atelier. The excellence and expertise of our tailors is very challenging yet immensely inspiring. Precision comes from the dialogue I have initiated with them as well as from my own background. And it defines what we a trying to achieve: precision is a Dior Homme value, especially since it's always combined with creativity and innovation.
ESQ: What does the insistence on the “Frenchness” of Dior in both the man and the house symbolise?
KVA: Dior Homme has very strong French roots of which we are very proud. Monsieur Dior himself, though he never designed menswear, is a figure of French bourgeoisie elegance. He liked the precision of sartorialism, yet always challenged the codes. This spirit is still a core value of our House.
ESQ: Aside from the aesthetics, the construction is important. How do you engage with the fabrication and the material side of things?
KVA: Working constantly with my team at the studio and with our atelier is my biggest source of pride: their excellence is humbling and challenging. Construction is key to what I am trying to achieve. I am not only working on clothes, not only building a wardrobe or even a silhouette - I try to invent an allure. And I always say there is a technical beauty in the construction and materials used to achieve this goal.
ESQ: Dior is associated with luxury. How do you define luxury and how will it evolve?
KVA: Dior Homme is a luxury brand and I certainly hope Dior Homme is defining modern luxury; I always look forward yet never forget our heritage. Dior Homme's luxury is a subtle yet strong form of elegance.
ESQ: What would you say is key to being a successful modern man?
KVA: Success comes with confidence. I hope Dior Homme is helping men to be confident.
ESQ: Which is most important to you, films, music or art?
KVA: Art is important to me, regardless of its forms of expression. I wouldn't categorise or rank them. As creative director, I respect every kind of creation.
ESQ: From your perspective, what is the image of Dior Homme?
KVA: I certainly hope people perceive Dior Homme as the finest luxury house for modern men.
Photograph of Kris Van Assche by Karim Sadli. Video credit: Dior Homme Spring 2016 Collection. Photography by Karim Sadli. Art direction by M/M (Paris). Styling by Mauricio Nardi. Modelled by Thibaud Charon, Ruben Pol, Serge Rigvava. First published in Esquire Malaysia's January 2016 issue.