Luxury and austerity: These are the poles around which Kris Van Assche structures his world. His expansive white set for Dior Homme's show today suggested a gorgeous apartment, expensive but empty. A few flickering fireplaces and crystal chandeliers set the scene. P. Diddy, seated front-row center, could have used it for a music video set.
Then, the clothes. The palette (chocolate, gray, black, and small doses of red); the lack of ornamentation; the long, unbroken lines—they all suggested Van Assche's almost monastic attachment to restraint. Add the wide-brimmed hats of quasi-Amish mien (yes, the Pennsylvania Dutch and their brethren are officially a Fall 2011 trend), and you couldn't miss it. This isn't a new preoccupation. The invitation to last season's show read "lessness."
So is less more? The fluid silhouette is an interesting proposition. "After summer, which was really very fluid, it was a challenge to make a winter season seem fluid," Van Assche said after the show. "Obviously, materials are thicker and are layered." His solution was to use double-faced cashmere knits to add difference without weight or bulk. He introduced long, sinuous coats and robes in monochrome layers, and soft, wide pants. Even if it's been slightly liquefied, "it's a very classic vocabulary," the designer added. "All the elements are there."
There's a quiet loveliness in the thin-lapel blazers and the double-faced coats. The danger with all that fluidity, especially when it's paraded on the the slimmest and youngest the male-model world has to offer, is that eventually you start to yearn for a bit more crispness and bite. Maybe that's why there was something winning about the fine-gauge sweaters unraveling slightly at the neck. They looked as if someone had been gnawing on them.