By  on March 30, 2007

PARIS — Fueled by a "fresh point of view," courtesy of designer Kris Van Assche, Dior Homme plans to continue its expansion drive by further developing categories such as footwear and leather goods and marching into new territories.

So says Dior chief executive Sidney Toledano, who on Thurs­day confirmed a WWD report that Van Assche will succeed Hedi Slimane as the brand's artistic director.

An alumnus of Dior Homme who worked beside Slimane for seven years, Van Assche starts work at the French house on Monday, responsible for ready-to-wear and all manner of accessories. He will not have purview over men's fragrances and skin care, as did Slimane.

Terms of the multiyear contract were not disclosed, and Dior has yet to announce when Van Assche will show his first collection. The next men's fashion week in Paris is slated for June 28 to July 1.

The 30-year-old Antwerp, Bel­gium, native, who launched a signature collection in Paris in 2005, also will continue with that business, which will remain independent of Dior. Van Assche declined to give sales figures, but said his line is sold in 160 doors in Asia, Europe and North America.

"I feel very privileged to be asked to join Dior," Van Assche said. "I have a tremendous respect for the house, its heritage and its know-how."

The split between Slimane and Dior, first reported in WWD, created shock in the industry and underscored the tensions that often fester between strong-minded designers and brand management. As reported, negotiations to renew Slimane's contract at Dior Homme, which expired in July, have been protracted, complex and often tense.

According to sources, Slimane was eager to continue his successful collaboration with Dior, but contingent on the launch of a signature brand. Paramount issues for the designer for both projects were creative freedom and design integrity. But sensing a gulf of disagreement on many key issues, the designer ceased discussions with Dior earlier this month, the sources said.

Slimane is said to be saddened to leave Dior behind but steadfast in his conviction that designers must safeguard their trademarks and creative boundaries. He could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

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