PARIS, France — Sinksenfoor. Not exactly a word to set the pulse racing, even if it was the fairground ride that shaped Kris Van Assche’s new collection for Dior Homme. The ride, otherwise known as Decadence, was central to the experience of Van Assche and his fellow students at the Antwerp Academy — punks, goths, cool kids and miscreants of every stripe would hang out at the local fairground. You could picture all sorts of drug-soaked goings-on. And when Van Assche marched models well trussed in harnesses down his catwalk, the picture cleared.
And yet, his collection was as clean and precise as ever. He talks about surrounding himself with crazy people as a kind of vicarious inroad to altered states of consciousness, but the chaos in Van Assche’s work is strictly controlled.
That’s kind of a shame when he did so well with the little bits where he let himself go: the pinstripe that was unpicked into loose threads, the houndstooth that collapsed into blurs, the zigzag DIY stitching on otherwise immaculate blazers. Van Assche’s thing is hybridized New Wave and sportswear. He said he was dealing with that college moment where he, as a rabid Cure fan, wasn’t one of the sporty kids who got all the girls. So now that he’s a fashion bigshot, he has set out to remedy the past. A sporty polo collar on a punky hand-painted red/black shirt? Take that, college boy.
Which accounts for the schizoid quality in Van Assche’s work. He loves a skater pant, but there’s also the Gothic/romantic thing that has been part of his shtick from the very beginning of his career. Both in full effect with today’s collection, and still not fully reconciled. Japanese artist Toru Kamei contributed floral art work that, on closer inspection, had a creepy quality. Embroidered in patches on jackets and pants, it was the collection’s strong point. Much better than a cropped, baggy old skater pant.