He has painted himself as menswear's hopeless romantic, with the tango, the roses, the swooning swains, andin his latest showElvis crooning "Can't Help Falling in Love." But you'd have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at Kris Van Assche's sentimental posturing. And maybe the designer has begun to understand the potential for ridicule, because his new presentation was a much more down-to-earth affair. There were some iffy stylist's flourishesa wayward tiara, a few too many necklaces, shirts untucked just so on one sidebut there was also a moment or two where Van Assche made the most of the hybrid of formal dressing and sportswear that continues to be a riptide in men's fashion.
The loose bow tie trompe-stitched on a white shirt perhaps wasn't the best idea (paging Anthony Michael Hall), but another white shirt with a piqué-bib front and a black-striped knit collar was a striking distillation of the dress-up/down dialogue. White piping snaked across black trousers to create a bias-cut effect, and the seaming of a pinstripe jacket fit into the season's fascination with a new geometry of the body.
When Van Assche went street, layering a tiny waistcoat over a plaid shirt over a white shirt (with a whacking great pair of sneakers on the model's feet), he simply proved that he's better off in the salon. But then, what else would you expect from a designer who offered utilitarian cargo pants in lustrous cappuccino-colored velvet corduroy?