In a Paris season characterized by arcane
inspirations, Kris van Assche found his in les
hommes-fleurs, a tribe of Arabian warriors who
unabashedly adorn themselves with flowers. He was
equally turned on by photos of elegant old Van Assches
from the Belle Epoque. So the central idea was that
there are different ways for men to be masculine.
Unfortunately, the show itself didn't serve this notion as well as it might have. Michael Nyman's soundtrack for The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover provided a musical underlay so insistent it would have induced madness had the show lasted another ten minutes. And a storm of windblown rose petals midway through proved equally distracting (a mannequin made his way through the blizzard with his trench held over his head).
We already know Van Assche is both rigorous and romantic, so the formal lines of the Belle Epoque did in fact agree with him. There was something of the night in his tailoring: the dark blue suit with a sheen, the double-breasted coat with a little half belt, even the tweed coat piped in black. His indigo jeans were silk, not denim, the kind of dressy touch that is practically a signature.
But once the hommes-fleurs invaded the catwalk, the tone toughened and the clothes roughened, not necessarily for the better. A leather blouson was paired with sweats, a serape was slung round a bare torso. And then, of course, there were those floral adornments. A different way to be masculine? Not there yet.