"The sun must have his shade." Kris Van Assche borrowed the cryptic line for his invitation from sixteenth-century poet Thomas Campion, which was pretty much in keeping with Van Assche's track record. He's often been partial to a little highbrow window-dressing. He insisted what he really wanted to convey was the incongruity of tuxedos on the beach. At Art Basel Miami Beach last year, he'd spent a lot of time baking in black-tie while working the art fair's frenetic beachside social circuit. That struck him as some kind of metaphor for the mix of formal and informal that is his design signature at Dior.
The music today was Pet Shop Boys, "something that is fun and rigorous at the same time," said Van Assche. He was after that same quality in the clothes, too, but there, the fun was a little less obvious than the rigor. The designer repeated variants on jackets and pants (short, medium, long) in a handful of muted, compatible tones, all designed to be endlessly recombined. "Lots of choice within one idea," he said. Visual interest was provided by contrasting, often metallic patchworks inspired by the work of artist John Chamberlain. For Van Assche, patchwork embodied what he called "the opportunities of chance." (There were dice on his invitation, alongside Campion's words.) That may also have been the rationale behind the big mirrored maze that filled the catwalk. In a maze, there is always the chance to take a right turn—or a wrong one.
But it seemed like an unnecessarily complicated device for a show that was so straightforward. Perhaps that was the point too. The musician/theoretician Brian Eno once stipulated that "repetition of a thing changes it." Van Assche might have hoped some of that magic would attach itself to his own repetitious offering, but just in case it didn't, he made sure the audience had plenty of time to reflect on his clothes as his models trolled to and fro through the reflecting labyrinth.