Kris Van Assche was at a Madonna concert, aged 12, staring up at those infamous cones created by Jean Paul Gaultier when he decided he was going to be a fashion designer. But life in small town Belgium was a far cry from the gilded salons of Paris haute couture, so getting there was never gonna be easy.
Born in 1976 to a family he has described as “not creative”, the young man fought his way into Antwerp’s prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts, the same school attended by the Antwerp Six — Ann Demeulemeester. Walter Van Beirendonck, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs, and Marina Yee — and Martin Margiela… you might’ve heard of some of them. In the first year, he was one of 150 students. By the final year, all but seven remained, including our man.
After graduating he moved to Paris and was immediately snapped up as Hedi Slimane’s first assistant at Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Homme, then followed Slimane to Christian Dior for the launch of the game-changing Dior Homme line. To call it influential would be doing the brand an enormous disservice: Slimane’s razor sharp tailoring, skinny jeans, and whippet thin models (who were often street cast outside rock’n’roll gigs in Berlin and London), famously inspired Karl Lagerfeld to drop almost half his body weight so he could fit into the clothing.
Van Assche left Dior Homme in 2004 to do his own thing, and dropped his inaugural KRISVANASSCHE collection in 2005, described at the time by style.com as “One of the most buzzed about debuts of the season.” Things came full circle in 2007 when he was appointed creative director for Dior Homme after Slimane left amid rumors of contract negotiation breakdowns.
In his eponymous line, the KRISVANASSCHE look combines razor sharp tailoring with sporty elements, like half button-down, half T-shirt hybrids, or slim-fit dress pants with a crewneck sweatshirt, and his multi-lace high top sneakers are a constant sight on well-heeled industry insiders at the men’s shows in Europe. If it’s at the crossroads of tailoring and sportswear, Kris Van Assche will nail it every time.
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