Many of the leading minds in Paris point to a more formal, polished direction for men’s fashion. Kris Van Assche is among them, and made an eloquent case for black-tie dressing — with helpings of modern irreverence — at Dior Homme.
The tuxedos, dinner suits and tailcoats that opened the show were immaculate, and packed an emotional punch. ZZ Top famously sang, gruffly, about the virtues of a sharp-dressed man: Here, Van Assche amplified the impact of his opening display with a 32-piece string section lined up in the middle of the runway, spinning out a symphonic version of a stirring new track by French electronic artist Koudlam.
Gradually, the models accrued hipper accessories in addition to their bow ties — baseball caps, sneakers and silvery music badges plastered with real dried flowers. Van Assche would go on to absorb raw denim, beat-up leather and acid colors into his tailoring-heavy collection. Shapes were trim and tubular, with little waist definition; giving a clean, contemporary line to suits and topcoats.
“I like to call it techno sartorial,” he explained backstage before the show. “It’s sartorial, but in a sporty, contemporary way. These are young guys. They know about elegance, but they do it their way.”
Van Assche seemed energized by the theme, imagining young hipsters heading to the opera on a skateboard or bicycle. To keep them warm, he concocted long vests in technical mesh that resemble a removable coat liner. Even dressier versions came in cashmere, or the thinnest, most supple shearling imaginable.
The surprise was how cool they looked worn over or under suits. So long, ath-leisure: Hello, office appropriate body-warmer.