As the Belgian designer prepares to depart the historic house, we take a look back at the legacy he leaves behind
Another day, another designer shake-up. The last year has seen Phoebe Philo end her ten-year tenure at Céline, Kim Jones bow out of Louis Vuitton, and Christopher Bailey bring his era-defining reign at Burberry to a close (to name just a few). Next to join the list is Kris Van Assche, as it was announced this morning that he’ll be saying goodbye to Dior Homme in the coming weeks.
Having worked at the brand under Hedi Slimane during the early-00s, Van Assche developed on his predecessor's legacy, infusing the revered French house’s signature tailoring and slim silhouettes with youthful, sporty detailing and rock ‘n’ roll flourishes (enhanced by his penchant for casting actual musical stars in his campaigns: Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, Oliver Sim of The xx, and A$AP Rocky among them).
Though there’s no word as to where he’s headed just yet – in an official statement released by Dior, the brand stated the Belgian designer would “continue to express his talent and creativity within the LVMH Group” – rumours are that he may just be on his way to fill a Kim Jones-shaped hole at Louis Vuitton. Jones, meanwhile, will head up Dior Homme following Van Assche’s departure. Is this going to be a straight-up swap?
As he prepares to leave the brand behind, we take a look at what defined Van Assche’s vision of Dior Homme over the course of the eleven years he headed up the house.
HIS COLLABORATION WITH LARRY CLARK
Van Assche has long made his obsession with Larry Clark known, telling The New York Times that the Kids director is “a major reference point, so it is therefore only normal that I had pictures of him and his work all over my moodboards.” In 2016 he took his (totally justified) fan-boydom to new levels, as he enlisted Clark to star in the Dior Homme AW16 campaign. Their collab didn’t end there though: soon after, the director shot a short film for the house. Featuring a gang of (surprise!) Dior-clad boys, the video sees them wandering aimlessly around the streets of Paris and hanging out in front of the Eiffel Tower, as a group of skateboarders weave their way around them – all in the iconic director’s unmistakable, lo-fi style.
HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH MUSIC
Like former artistic director Hedi Slimane, Van Assche understands the ways in which fashion and music are inextricably linked and has a deep-rooted interest in musical subcultures – and if his choice of campaign faces are any indication of the genre he’s the biggest fan of, we’d place a pretty sure bet on it being the new wave scene of the 1980s. Over the course of the last few years, we’ve seen everyone from Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode, Boy George, the Pet Shop Boys, and Oliver Sim of The xx front Dior Homme campaigns, with show soundtracks provided by the likes of Soft Cell, Radiohead, and New Order (among many, many more). “I am interested in a synthesis of generations and filtering subcultures through my own lens to tell a new story,” the designer told us last year. But while new wave is seemingly high up on his playlist, it’s by no means the only genre he’s interested in…
WHEN A$AP ROCKY BECAME HIS MUSE
Though he’s since pledged his allegiance to Raf Simons and collaborated with JW Anderson on a capsule collection for his eponymous label, back in 2013, A$AP Rocky made his love for Dior known on track “Fashion Killa” (“I adore your Dior”). The feeling was obviously mutual, as Van Assche recruited the rapper to star in his AW16 campaign alongside Larry Clark. Shot by Willy Vanderperre, the images marked the first of a series of appearances Pretty Flacko made as the face of Dior Homme, with the Belgian designer later going on to cite him as his muse.
HIS PROGRESSIVE DIOR HOMME AESTHETIC
Though keen to adhere to the style codes of the house of Dior, Van Assche has played an enormous part in pushing the brand forward into 2018. Fusing traditional tailoring and construction methods with sporty, street-inspired elements, his progressive vision of Dior Homme traverses the line between history and modernity, while the subcultural references that permeate his collections – like those of 90s gabber and rave music (AW17), 80s new wave (AW16), and hardcore punk (SS17), as well as AW18’s Sisqo-esque 90s tribal prints – balance cult appeal and commerciality with seemingly perfect ease.
HE BROUGHT LITTLE-KNOWN ARTISTS TO A NEW AUDIENCE
Alongside the actors, models, and musicians that made up his campaign line-ups, Van Assche also demonstrated his affinity for artistic collabs. Joining forces with a number of breakout creatives throughout the course of his tenure as artistic director, the designer brought the work of Japanese artist Toru Kamei, architect Nicolas Sisto, and photographer Michal Chelbin to a new audience, while skate photographer Ian Kenneth Bird and multidisciplinary artist @rememberyouweremadetobeused have recently been tasked with creating imagery for the historic brand, with the latter creating a series of videos documenting Van Assche’s AW18 collection and the diverse group of models (young and old) that wore it. Elsewhere, as part of a collaboration with Dan Witz for AW17, the photorealist painter’s mosh pit scenes were emblazoned across billowing capes and rigid denim jeans and jackets – and were worn by A$AP Rocky.