Does Kris Van Assche feel like a fashion Cinderella when he wakes in the morning? It was decreed that the Dior Homme shoe fit him, and he was granted one of the twenty-first century's most powerful, influential legacies. But how can he prove he's more than a pretender to the throne? With great caution, evidently. With this, his first runway show for Dior Homme, Van Assche cleaved close to the original blueprint: a chiaroscuro spectacular featuring live music and a cast of nonprofessional model boys corralled on the designer's travels. Clothing-wise, he opted to explore a couple of themes until there was simply nothing more to be said about them: an outfit composed of a tiny jacket and trousers with a legginglike cling, and a shirt-and-pants combo that featured a bottom half of multi-pleated harem-pant-like extravagance. Hammer pants, they were called in the early 1990s, after everyone's favoriteat the timerapper. Except that Van Assche's interpretation was more MC Lestat, after everyone's second-favorite vampire.
Van Assche clearly has great faith in this silhouette, because he's used it before. And maybe it is in the DNA of the brand, given David Bowie's brief flirtation with the Big Pant (the Thin White Duke was a seminal inspiration for Hedi Slimane, in both baggy and tight-trousered phases). But even that can't shift the uncomfortable echoes of an early eighties Montreal/New York boutique business called Parachute. Which led on, in this case, to other discombobulating New Wave-isms: the patent leathers, the Eldritch footwear, the curious geometries of hems pointing this way or vents stitched that way. In his show notes, Van Assche evoked "the solemn advance of a Shakespearian hero," which possibly accounted for the Hamlet-on-Mars feel of a slashed doublet I mean, sweater and hose. Those notes hinted at an acutely self-conscious need to inject portent into the collection, likewise the unremittingly dark palette. That leads one to the obvious solution: Lighten up. There were gems in the murk, however. Van Assche presented some beautiful, poetic shirts; a barathea coat had a sleek (okay, vampiric) glamour. Maybe next time, the sun will be shining.