PAY IT FORWARD: Kris Van Assche is joining the ranks of designers with a side gig in education.
The former Dior men’s wear designer will be mentoring the Master in Creative Direction program at Florentine fashion school Polimoda.
“I am looking forward to meeting this new generation and I hope, with the experience of my own independent label, Dior Homme and Berluti, I will be able to get into their heads and understand their needs,” Van Assche told WWD.
“I think I will definitely learn a lot about myself from this interaction with their energy and passion,” he added.
Van Assche parted ways with Berluti earlier this year after three years as artistic director of the house, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
A men’s wear star who succeeded Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme in 2007 and helmed that brand for 11 years, he brought meticulous tailoring, zesty color and runway razzmatazz to Berluti, transposing the patinas of its famous footwear to clothing and putting Gigi Hadid in a mint green suit flecked with feathers.
A graduate of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Van Assche moved to Paris in 1998 and was part of Slimane’s team at Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Homme before joining him at Dior Homme. He started a signature label in 2005 — two years before he took the top design post at Dior — and put it on hiatus in 2015.
“Being a creative director is, first of all, about understanding the brand you are working for. No two brands will have exactly the same needs. And more than ever before, creative directors must be capable of quickly adapting their ideas and concepts to an ever-changing reality,” Van Assche said in a statement issued by Polimoda on Thursday.
“The pandemic gave a whole new side to the creative part of the job. Will there be a fashion week? Will buyers and journalists be able to travel? Will stores actually be open, the producers be able to complete the collection we have in mind? Fashion was always about making deadlines, but this just got a whole new dimension,” he added.
The Master in Creative Direction is a nine-month course taught in English, and the next edition begins in October. The course tackles themes including design, brand and communications with the aim of forming students to take on the most prominent roles on the design side of the industry.