June 29, 2012 Paris
But if there was a military discipline to the metal buttons that closed blazers, and a naval nod in the striped sweaters whose stripes turned out to be, on closer inspection, ropes, the full collection went beyond mere thematic tricks. Van Assche, in his methodical way, set out to present what he called "a complete wardrobe."
That's a heady aspiration, though what was shown had more depth than breadth. Van Assche is skilled at turning an idea over and over, tweaking it: showing a blazer, then shearing its sleeves, then removing its back. Finally, all becomes completely clear, as if by the sheer force of his attention. But the concept became flesh—well, cloth—when Van Assche rendered a few jackets and coats in nylon mesh, the better to show the construction inside (a gesture that recalled his Spring 2012 collection, which he modeled on toiles as an homage to his atelier).
Under the laser of his focus, everything unnecessary falls away. Even the parts in the models' hair seemed spit shined into submission. If rigor comes at some cost to charm, it's a bargain you imagine the designer would approve. These are clothes to be worn—or maybe enlisted in.