Ideas in formation

Le romancier flamand Tom Lanoye vit et écrit une partie de l’année en Afrique du Sud.

Flemish novelist Tom Lanoye lives and writes part of the year in South Africa.

Sanctuaire dédié au kami (esprit) de la fertilité.

Sanctuary dedicated to the kami (spirit) of fertility.

A master tailor adjusts the mock-up of a jacket on a Stockman dummy

Tudor has been sponsoring the festival since 2016. / Their watches are always accurate and pretty much indestructible. Underwater, in the air or below ground, they are watertight and able to stand up to the most extreme conditions. Tudor watches are the watches for adventurers and daredevils.

Kris Van Assche, Dior Homme’s artistic director since 2016, is averse to disorder; he talks about his vision of haute couture, which is intrinsically linked to manual precision. In a word, “technical beauty.”

Kris Van Asscheelegant, polite and as polished as the upstairs room in the opulent building on Rue de Marignan, where he receives people is neatis sparing in his gestures. Probably because he knows how valuable they are. What he loves most of all is the unique savoir-faire embodied by the technical gesture, in other words, one that is not only sensual but also judicious, that has and gives meaning. “The hand is the basis of my work, of course: it’s the sewing workshop, cutting the fabric, the entoilage [the incorporation of various structural elements between the fabric and the lining of a jacket],” he says. “But it is also this manual element that draws me to the work of other creators in the first place: the painter, the ceramicist and even the photographer, especially when they display a perfect mastery of light by sculpting it, as in Robert Mapplethorpe’s work.” His diverse elective affinities always include artists who respect this craftsmanlike precision. A case in point is Michaël Borremans, a Belgian photographer and video artist who has become a painter; and also Rinus Van de Velde, another Belgian, known for his monumental charcoal drawings. The artists who appeal most to Van Assche have one foot in an impassioned modernity and the other in perpetuating the past. None of them shy away from the nitty-gritty and getting their hands dirty.

The man who is praised for his “half-street, half-strict” clothes has an insatiable appetite for the technical aspect of his craft. Dior’s savoir-faire is at the center of everything and inevitably influences day-to-day work. Indeed, it was because he knew he would learn a lot working with the tailoring studio that this former student of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp agreed to join the couture house. He explains: “Work here is organic. It is by making things that we create; in other words, the gesture creates the idea. If I think of a particular shape of collar, I have it made immediately, because the workshop will produce not one collar but three, which will lead me to another idea. The sketch is merely a starting point.”

Details and gesture

A dark figure in baggy canvas pants, the man who softened the Dior Homme silhouette, making it more fluid and comfortable, idolizes both the artisan and the aesthete, and has the utmost respect for expert manual skill, the precise, tiny, perfectly executed gestureto such an extent that he sometimes reveals and plays with structure. Who could forget the 2010 catwalk show for which he designed transparent cotton jackets that showed the garment’s hidden architecture, its entoilage and 25 internal layers? “I love the idea that style choices are legitimized by a certain functionality,” he confesses with a smile. It is both a structural and visual achievement.

He has given a name as well as a future perspective to this quest: “technical beauty.” “This is the only real luxury: technique and skill that can be beautiful and modern. Once I understood that, I finally found my place in this house.” He is not at all interested in revolutionizing the sartorial spirit, as a sort of modern dandyism. What he wants is “to throw people off track and above all create contrasts.”

This obsession with detail is a leitmotif that runs from one season to the next. In the Summer 2017 Dior Homme collection, the traditional tailoring gestures appropriated industrial decoration: “Eyelets, laces, hooks and woolen prints give a fresh twist to the cliché of the famous two-piece suit.” The use of artisanal materials that look as if they’ve been salvaged, pre-worn or damaged also provide an interesting reflection on the history or memory of the garment.

Van Assche’s latest surprise for his fans: a collection of seven punk-effect sneakers, to be worn with a suit or dinner jacket. A slight deviation from the principle according to which Dior Homme is more about the interior than the exterior.

“Work here is organic. It is by making things that we create; in other words, the gesture creates the idea. If I think of a particular shape of collar, I have it made immediately, because the workshop will produce not one collar but three, which will lead me to another idea.”

Next

Lison de Caunes