From 2007-2018, Kris Van Assche led the house of Dior as creative director for men’s. Then came Berluti (2018-2021) while he continued to run his namesake label in parallel (2005-2015). Now, a book, Kris Van Assche: 55 Collections, published by Lannoo, offers a chronological overview of his work, along with collaborations with A$AP Rocky, Pet Shop Boys, Dave Gahan, and Boy George.
Images of Cindy Sherman, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga through photography by Paolo Roversi, Willy Vanderperre, Nan Goldin, David Sims, Alasdair McLellan, Sarah Moon, Nick Knight, Patrick Demarchelier, Jeff Burton and Inez & Vinoodh offer a visual compendium of his work in this tome designed by M/M (Paris) and with an introduction by Anders Christian Madsen.
Born in 1976 in Londerzeel, Belgium, to a car sales mechanic father and a secretary mother, it was Van Assche’s grandmother who had a lasting effect on him. The daughter of a Belgian merchant who lost his fortune, she remained forever connected to her bourgeois roots. “She always said, ‘Taking care of yourself is a form of politeness.’” Van Assche recalls to Madsen. At 12 years old, he began making clothes on her sewing machine, rebelling against the drab of his surroundings with refinement and elegance. Soon, he was enrolled in weekly art classes, his parents supportive of whatever path he would choose. At 18, he had earned a major in modern languages and economics and enrolled at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. He remembers this time as the best years of his life.
Following graduation, he left Belgium for Paris in 1998, and worked as Hedi Slimane’s first assistant for the Rive Gauche Homme line at Yves Saint Laurent. He continued to collaborate with him at Christian Dior, becoming its creative director in 2005. In parallel, from 2005 to 2015, he had his namesake label. Recalling the reason for putting it on hold, he recounts, “I had a responsibility to the people working for me, so I felt guilty. But it was also a relief. I had enjoyed being the underdog, but when you’re in a start-up. For eleven years and also handling the biggest brand in the world, the schizophrenia is frustrating. I didn’t know if I would get shoes in time; would there be lights for the show? It wasn’t living up to my expectations.” Van Assche.
By 2018, his time at Dior Homme ended and he was appointed as the new creative director at Berluti, a position he maintained throughout the pandemic. Having upheld his values of “discretion and hard work,” this tome is an important reflection on an illustrious career. Sidney Toledano, chairman and CEO of LVMH writes, “Kris is a guy who doesn’t panic. He’s calm. I never had him calling me, sending me an SMS in the middle of the night, or making dramas. Kris, never. He talks.”