Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
PARIS--When Belgian designer Kris van Assche was appointed creative director of Dior Homme in 2007, one of his first tasks was to build a close relationship with the Dior Homme atelier, established in 2000, to evolve the house’s trademark black suit (or what was then known as the skinny black suit).
In his first several outings--a presentation at a mansion on Avenue Foch in July 2007 and his first show on the grounds of the Invalides near Napoleon’s tomb in January 2008--Mr. Van Assche did not veer far from the codes of the Hedi Slimane years, causing a barrage of criticisms. But a strong history can’t be changed overnight. Over the course of a few seasons, he loosened the skinny black suit and added hues of camel, Dior’s light gray and whites. With the spring 2009 collection, Dior Homme’s signature suit was now boxy yet elegant in its proportion, with draping that reflected the atelier’s craftsmanship.
Last Saturday, in the giant indoor courts of the Tennis Club on the edge of Paris--where light grey and sheer toile veil divided the vast space into small sections to emphasize the privacy of the presentation--Mr. Van Assche sent out a collection of loose and flowing suits and coats, starting from ultra light in white, light ecru, camel to pale blue then to the obligatory black, a collection that revolved around the notion of "less and more," the theme of the show.
Taking a cue from the last two seasons, which were filled with unfinished hems and excessive fabrics, Van Assche presented jackets with a slightly-constructed and draped feel either in cotton and flax. With no visible lapels and a high neck metal ring closure in place of buttons, they flared at the hips, transforming a rigid single-breasted jacket into a relaxed open shirt. Stripped to their bones, so to speak, these new jacket silhouettes--like the white sleeveless suit with black fedora and leather bracelets--alternated with shirt jackets and loose, six-button double-breasted suits in white and black. A sleeveless suit had camel lambskin trims along the outside lapel. I liked the camel short sleeve lambskin sheath over tan slouchy flax pants. A similar look was shown in all black.
Sure, the collection had plenty of design innovations and the clothes are without a doubt any retailers’ dream. But now that he has proven his capacity to integrate and guide the Dior Homme atelier, Mr. Van Assche at some point has to move his discourse forward and imbue his collections with more emotions and feelings, rather than just making clinical and perfectly executed clothes. Mr. Van Assche can inject a little of his personality and his views into this collection of refined menswear. Fashion isn't just about methodology--it doesn't just take technical knowledge and deployment of craftsmanship to achieve the perfect cut.
**All photos via Imaxtree.