Considering the current stance of the fashion industry, serving 10 years as Creative Director at one of the world's leading fashion powerhouses means something.
Moreover, to sacrifice your own label for the pursuance of continuing a legacy, is a dedicated mission. When Van Assche took this decision to put a pause on his brand back in 2015, he proclaimed that it was for a positive adventure and was destined to be one.
On this space, I've written about Van Assche on multiple occasions; each experience after having witnesses an explosion of physical and emotional senses. With every season, the brand has the ability to transport the viewer to an alternative universe. Whether that be a sea of Fée des Neiges of Été 2016 or a 1970s club that replicates the New Wave vanguard of Hiver 2017, it's no secret that the brand holds a very special place in my heart.
To kick off my writing for the Spring Summer 2018 season back in June, it makes sense to recall something that has become a reoccurring topic with multiple media colleagues. Tracing back to conversations and memories back in June, I remember quite distinctly that many have been questioning where menswear fashion, most notably luxury, sits with the current digital frontier. With the evolution of menswear fashion, the emergence of streetwear has formed subcultures. Second-hand online retailing went hand in hand with the ‘hype’ we now witness and find in the endless amounts of online forums. Attention has been dispersed and creativity is not necessarily appraised by the masses in words of technique or visual savoir-faire. These threads of youth culture have needled their way, quite literally, to become communities that reflect on the present. So naturally, it was only a matter of time when fashion would mirror the current and reasonably adapt itself to drive commerce.
It would be ruthless to reduce Van Assche’s work to simply streetwear, considering the context Van Assche describes his work. By delving into the references, we have Kristin McKirdy (Canadian ceramicist for Été 2016), Dan Witz (American artist for Hiver 2017) and for this Été 2018 season, we have François Bard. Bard, a French artist who was trained at the prestigious École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, describes his painting style as classic, with traditional oil painting techniques, such as, glazing and, subsequently, layering due to the texture of paint application. His paintings are often recognised by its dark and dense detailing, often depicting everyday mundane subjects. Enigma is a word Bard takes pleasure in describing his work. Rarely would one be able to find a clean portrait of a person looking directly at the viewer, least in clear sight with no shadows.
For this part of the collection, it would be fair to reason Bard’s collaboration with Dior as a reconstruction of the artists’ work. The hooded figures from his paintings, the yellow hood titled and translated from ‘La Capuche Jaune’, have been reworked into the collection with colourful pieces, potentially at the request of Van Assche due to his previous stated problem of incorporating colour in his creations. Other pieces of Bard’s graphic work included monochromatic orchids which came in a vest and the ‘Tulipes Blanches’ which also appeared in other commercial pieces.
Since Van Assche took on his creative reign in 2007 at Dior Homme, the first question that came to mind was, ‘what was the DNA?’ To which, the question had no definitive answer to. Dior Homme was not found during the lifetime of Mr. Christian Dior and so references to the archive were limited. However, Van Assche’s interpretation of l’ADN of Dior Homme (French method of saying DNA) is the stark contrast between tradition and creativity. The graphic ‘university’ logo that reads ‘Late Night Paris’ in this collection resonates the coming-of-age and sense of freedom in the process. The looks here are often combined with short shorts, formalised by the fusion of traditional tailoring. Van Assche recognised the significance of the Dior bar jacket by opening the show with looks, the primary three of which were presented solely with black garments and decorated with silk ribbons that spelt the Dior Homme atelier at 3 Rue de Marignan. Considering that Van Assche has not made references to the bar jacket, even in the hyper formal Hiver 2016 collection, silhouette 8 of this collection pays particular tribute to Mr. Christian Dior's first collection, 'La Ligne Corolle', presented on 12th of February 1947.
As for the set of the show, titled ‘Late Night Summer’, the Grand Palais has been transformed for the second season into an alternative fantastical universe – one complete with glossy black vinyls which draped from the ceiling and matte green turf, oozing the sensational youth culture along remixed alternative rock tracks of R.E.M, Radiohead and Depeche Mode.