KRIS VAN ASSCHE WAS BORN IN BELGIUM IN 1976. SHORTLY AFTER GRADUATING FROM THE ANTWERP ROYAL ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS, HE MOVED TO PARIS IN 1998. AFTER WORKING WITH HEDI SLIMANE AT YVES SAINT LAURENT AND THEN FOR DIOR HOMME, HE BEGAN TO SHOW HIS ORIGINAL CREATIONS IN JANUARY 2005. TODAY HE HEADS HIS OWN LABEL, 'KRIS VAN ASSCHE.' BALANCING A NOSTALGIC HISTORICAL SENSE WITH RADICAL MODERNISM, KRIS HAS CREATED A DISTINCTIVE, REFINED WORLD OF NONCHALANT ELEGANCE. HERVÉ GODARD AND BEAUTIFUL INTRODUCE YOU TO KRIS VAN ASSCHE, THE NEW STAR IN THE DESIGNER'S HEAVEN OF PARIS.
You give the impression that you succeed easily in everything you do. Are you a hard worker, or is it just plain luck ?
Kris: Probably both. I love my work, and I work constantly – in the office, but also during the stress of holidays, while reading a book, in my bath, in my dreams… Ideas can come to me at any time, but at some point I had to get lucky in order for this adventure to happen.
You seem very attached to the idea of a man taking care of the way he looks…
Kris: During my studies at the Antwerp Academy, there was this tendency towards the trash and the heroine chic. I’ve never been sensitive to that movement, because for me, fashion exists to make people more beautiful.
Can you talk about those thousands of little details that make up your clothes? Where do you find your inspiration ?
Kris: I love men’s fashion with all its rules and limitations. I need to find the balance between the too basic and the ridiculous. I don’t like fashion that’s too extravagant, with its costumes straight out of a carnival. I don’t find it attractive for a man. I’d rather discover the sensitivity and the personality behind the way he looks – classical, but with certain uncanny and very specific details. The man I have in mind gets dressed in two minutes, with a certain nonchalance. He rolls up his sleeves, his collar may not be ironed, he wears a suit with sneakers… I re-utilize all these traits as a thread in my collections.
Is it a man who looks like you or a fantasized one?
Kris: As I’m always trying to make them look more beautiful, I’m often touched by a feeling of pride, be it in a film, a picture, a book, or in the people I meet on a trip. For example I got some inspiration from the South American men, who look like bull fighters or tango dancers. So, for my third collection, I got my inspiration from the black and white pictures I saw from the Belle Époque, when photography was a novelty. Family portraits were big events then, happening at major moments of one’s life. They were like ceremonies for which people would dress up. I found this old family picture, where the men were posing, for posterity, all tall and proud, in their impeccable three-piece-suits. The second source of my inspiration for my 2006 Winter Collection was the Hommes-Fleurs (Flower Men), a nomad tribe from Saudi Arabia, for whom each day is a reason to wear radiant flowers, with bright colours, symbols of their masculinity. I love how these two sources of inspiration, as incompatible as they could seem, really match well together. It’s my way of saying that beauty is everywhere, in our own backyard as much as in the farther lands.
Out of all the masculine icons, past and present, can you name two who really inspired you ?
Kris: Johnny Depp and Sean Penn. -B-