"I wanted to return to that time in a man's life when he is stepping out
into the world, maybe for the first time, and he is eager to conquer
it," said Kris Van Assche of his quietly rebellious Spring collection
for men, a particularly special one for the Antwerp-schooled Belgian. It
marked his tenth year and twentieth eponymous collection (he also serves as creative director for Dior Homme, alongside Raf Simons on the women's side), which he noted with a tinge of incredulity in his voice. But just as quickly, he cautioned, "This is not a retrospective show at all."
Indeed not. Rather, Van Assche, a known quantity, explored uncharted territory with new confidence. He skillfully twisted and tweaked his well-understood slim silhouette, adding unexpected details like knee vents and paring down Fair Isle knits to be so thin they could be a second skin. He also layered contrasting jackets, such as a mosh-pit blouson worn over a double-breasted coat, and styled them with beaded necklaces and bracelets, recalling surf culture. Colors came in both pleasant shades—sky blue, slate gray, salmon—and pleasantly discomfiting options, most notably shiny antique bronze and avocado drab.
A sense that things were not as they seemed permeated throughout, stemming from a willingness to push suiting's boundaries. Suit jackets were rethought in hybrid ways; skinny ties disappeared into shirting halfway down the front; and trousers came with horizontal-bar inserts and were gathered at both the waist and hem. The high-minded experimentation derives from the designer's closely held ideology that a man's clothing is the outward expression of his personality, even a substitute for it. Or as Van Assche explained, with typical dry, Dadaistic clarity, "Hoodies are not hoodies; jeans are not jeans."