Dior Homme Is the Latest Men’s Label to Make Pre-Collections a Priority-------
Dior can smell a trend in the offing. The label’s artistic director for menswear, Kris Van Assche—as well as, presumably, his corporate bosses—sensed the growing importance of pre-collections for menswear and have begun to treat them with the pomp and circumstance formerly accorded to Fall and Spring. “At the start, a few seasons ago, these pre-collections were basically pre-deliveries of the main collections,” Van Assche told Style.com. “But now, with their strong commercial success, I understood the need for four independent, freestanding collections a year. We have now started calling these in-between collections Spring and Autumn, and the show collections Summer and Winter. These independent pre-collections tell a whole new story, away from the runway. I chose to present them to the press through catalogs, videos, and installations, like the one we had in Omotesando, Japan, in November, for the Spring collection.”
The story Van Assche set out to tell for Autumn—what other labels call Pre-Fall—is about an art student from Antwerp or Berlin. (Van Assche is Belgian himself and graduated, in his student days, from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts.) His wardrobe mixes the tailored pieces Dior Homme is famous for with more of the youth-inflected sportswear that’s a particular Van Assche fascination—sometimes in the same garment. (Blazer sleeves can be narrowed or expanded by zippers like those found on biker jackets, for example.) “His wardrobe is composed of various pieces bought on different occasions,” he says, “A blazer, a leather biker jacket, a bright red duffle coat, some knits, the typical ‘art student’ narrow black jeans, and, of course, black combat boots.”
There’s a new graphicism to some of the items, from printed suits to printed shirts, the latter of which owe a debt to the graphics of new wave (“which the art student would obviously be listening to”). But the main innovation of the collection is that, fittingly to its more commercial bent, it was conceived as separate, sales-friendly pieces. “The newest thing for me as a design concept,” Van Assche said, “was to think not in total looks but in strong separate pieces, and then make them work as an outfit.” The Autumn collection debuts exclusively on Style.com.