June 26, 2008
If consistency is a virtue, then Kris Van Assche is guaranteed a place in heaven, so true to his original vision does he remain. For a retiring lad from damp, chilly Antwerp, he's mightily obsessed with hot Latin blood. "Amor o muerte": That was the key to his latest collection, though quite how it was supposed to play out in the clothes was obtuse. As usual, the man he imagined was an incongruous cross-generational hybrid: an Old World gent who'd sit around in the plaza with garters on his shirtsleeves and a rose in his buttonhole, and a barrio boyhigh-tops, baggy shorts, waistband slung low. A hybrid vibe underpinned outfits like a gray suit with cargo shorts for pants, an athletic top with cable stitching, and a tuxedo jacket with a waistcoat back.
This marriage of the formal and the casual is something Van Assche has been trying to broker since he launched his own label, but it wasn't completely successful this time around, possibly because the mix is still coming across as crisp and proper as communion wear. (The designer is a dry cleaner's dream.) Van Assche's recent guest editorship of the worth-tracking-down Antwerp biannual A Magazine spotlit his appreciation of the sheerly physical, as did his finale here of bare-chested boys in "formal" activewear. He needs more of that looseness, less of the prissy poetry.