2008 January 21

Dior Homme - Paris Men's Fall 2008

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(PARIS) Kris Van Assche delivered a promising collection for his highly awaited runway debut at Dior Homme--making no promise to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor Hedi Slimane. Instead, he relied on his own talent and his design prowess, the results of which, according to Van Assche, were "a Shakespearean hero" that perhaps was more a member of the Three Musketeers.

Set against an all-black venue on the grounds of Les Invalides, the complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement created by Louis XIV in 1670, containing museums and monuments all relating to the military history of France, there certainly was a chivalrous undercurrent running through his show, from the custom-score by the Flemish-Belgian composer Wim Mertens performed by a live orchestra to the elegantly tailored jackets and shirts.

It was the pants, however, that continue to raise eyebrows.

Van Assche initially presented his idea of the parachute pant in his first showing, a presentation last July at a mansion on Avenue Foch. Back then he was criticized for their lack of wearability; this time around he made no pretense to change his opinion, although he did add a series of après-ski-worthy pants. And his patent leather boots, which bore strips of leather similar to the pants, were both highly stylized and probably where the look was best utilized.

Pleated, shredded, fluted--the pants gave the impression a sword's dagger had been run through them. The look wasn't as startling on the suit jackets, shirts, and vests that also seemed to have met with the feared blade, and if one judged the collection from waist up, what with nice poet shirts and leather jackets, it was highly wearable for the Dior Homme addict. Dark and brooding? Yes, to a degree, made all the more so by the ultra pale faces of the "models" that walked without expression. But a metallic studded jacket made for the modern-day Musketeer and several pieces bearing a green and red sheen reminiscent of an insect's eye were about the only variations on his point of view.

"For my own collection, I design for what I want to wear," said Van Assche, alluding to his namesake label. "Dior Homme is maybe a more progressive version of that."

One jacket accented with a flutter of butterflies was a nice touch, though more gimmicky than design-like. Signaling the end of the show was a procession of 15 models, all of whom came out clad in the same outfit: black slim-cut tuxedo pants, covered placket white shirts, and butterfly bow ties.

For his next collection, Van Assche would be well advised to keep the boots and drop trou.