Long Nguyen is the co-founder and style director of Flaunt.
PARIS–If there’s ever consistency in Kris Van Assche’s work for Dior Homme, where he’s been the creative director since 2007, it’s that he often sticks to a singular idea and develops a collection around it. Last season’s “Less And More” collection, while delivering on the goods at retail, lacked the spark that’s central to the appeal of men’s designer fashion.
On Saturday afternoon at the Club de Tennis on the outskirts of Paris, Mr. Van Assche delivered a radically different collection called “A Soldier on My Own,” centered around military uniforms. This time the set of the show was a simple and straight-forward runway with white doors (replicas of the doors at Dior’s Avenue Montaigne headquarters) and charcoal wooden platforms instead of the multi-room presentation from last season.
Sticking to a muted palate of military olive greens and navys allowed Mr. Van Assche to apply more sportswear and casual clothing elements–like a long wool zippered parka coat–to the more tailored tradition of Dior. The elegant off-white suits played to tradition, but when paired with a baseball cap and black mountain boots, the suit became more relevant to the new generation.
One of the most difficult tasks for men’s high fashion brands in recent years has been to attract and engage a younger consumer to the brand’s ethos and products. Take the sneaker for example. The last decade saw the birth and proliferation of designer sneakers, some selling as high as $1,500 a pair and made with exotic materials like crocodile skins, as a means for big brands to gain relevance for younger male consumers not readily buying designer fragrances. Call it street cred. For a few seasons now, it was not clear how Mr. Van Assche was bridging this gap and communicating Dior Homme’s heritage with clothes that his friends, peers and young men would want to wear.
At Dior Homme, the central mission is how to endow the house’s single-breasted suit–its heritage for menswear–with a degree of street cred to a generation of consumers less acquainted with the finer points of couture tailoring. But by combining elements of sportswear with more tailored pieces – like an olive leather biker jacket worn with a suit – it suddenly becomes clear.
You modernize a brand with the language familiar to the people you want to appeal to, and here Mr. Van Assche succeeded in his messaging and his clothes for Dior Homme.