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Street Cred

Dior Homme flaunts an edgy take on classic eveningwear.

Sitting in his office off the Champs-Élysées, Kris Van Assche looks sophisticated and cool in a tailored gray blazer and trousers with a crisp white T-shirt and argyle-print Adidas sneakers. It is a summer day in Paris, and the artistic director of Dior Homme is talking tuxedos—not the old standbys, mind you, but his vision of the classic evening suit for the modern man. “I picture a guy taking his girl to the opera for the first time and wearing formal pieces mixed with street wear, such as a tuxedo and sneakers or a formal jacket without buttons,” says Van Assche. “It’s about being elegant in a contemporary way.” 

The 39-year-old Belgian designer, who shuttered his own eponymous menswear line earlier this year to focus on Dior Homme, is known for putting an edgy spin on classic styles, and his latest work fits that pattern. An example from the fall collection is the black-tie dinner jacket and tails—sans buttons. Says Van Assche, “I enjoy playing with coats from the past and making them into styles that are very much today.

“Luxury clothes,” he adds, “can no longer be disconnected to a certain level of comfort and realism. For me, it’s about finding the right balance of being elegant in all circumstances but in a cooler, more dynamic way.” 

To that end, Van Assche has brought familiar pinstripes and Prince of Wales check and houndstooth patterns to precision-tailored, slimmer suits, adding pops of color with yellow printed knitwear and topcoats. He has also incorporated sporty elements into Dior Homme’s tailored clothing, fashioning such pieces as a sartorial denim suit, leather track pants, and utilitarian leather derby shoes with brightly colored soles. Thus he has furthered a hybrid that is showing up not only on the runways but also in the workplace. (Today’s leading tech companies, for example, tend to embrace comfort-driven dress codes, which of course are cropping up outside that sector as well.) Perhaps the greatest challenge with this new style direction is maintaining a sense of sophistication. 

So Van Assche, like other top menswear designers, is creating polished clothing that adapts to today’s busier lifestyle—“This year is about the active, dynamic man; it’s a reality check”—but his approach is distinctly personal. City life clearly has been an influence for Van Assche, as evidenced by such urban pairings as a black-leather parka over a formal suit, and a shearling jacket coupled with trousers. Christian Dior, who during his lifetime designed exclusively for women, has been a muse for him as well. “Mr. Dior had strict dress codes for himself, and he was always impeccably dressed,” says Van Assche. “He loved to go to the theater and the opera and was often joined by his good friend Jean Cocteau.”

With that, the blazer-and-Adidas-clad designer returns to the topic of Van Assche–style formalwear. (Think tuxedos paired with baseball caps, sneakers, and dried flowers in the lapels, or topped with waxed-denim coats.) “This guy I envision takes his girl to the opera,” he says, “but he also drives up on a bike to pick her up.”  

Dior Homme, 800.929.3467, diorhomme.com

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