For his Autumn/Winter 2015-16 collection, Belgian designer Kris Van Assche named his collection ”CONCRETE”. “For this season I had in mind the image of an urban soldier,” the designer explained. “It is fundamentally an urban collection because I like suits, active wear and active characters.
This time, I wanted the sporting element that I frequently return to, to be almost military in feel. I could imagine a guy on a bike in New York risking life and limb – a sort of city warrior. I wanted a look that felt streamlined rather than relaxed: energetic, fast, precise. In many ways it is an idea of sportswear meeting the New Wave; technical clothes with an aggressive, post-punk tailored attitude.”
In his twenty-first show and collection under his own name, Kris Van Assche explores twenty-first century preoccupations of the city and speed, with masculine dress for a new breed of urban warrior.
Here, the slim-fit grey suit transforms into a hybrid, streamlined cycling outfit, layered over the bicycle jersey, gathered at the ankles or calves. Mixed with the military motif of camouflage, blown up, appliqued and made to stand out in the cityscape rather than blend in, the emphasis is on dynamism and protection.
Military motifs are contrasted against symbols of the city; uniform ruching is transposed to tailoring, frequently gathering backs of sleeves and trousers; technical nylon parkas, trimmed in frost fox fur, are layered over hyper-real chalk stripe, pinstripe wools; intricate, contrasting stitch knits become a new kind of textured camouflage; military Melton wools form a new take on the great coat with technical zips and Velcro fastenings.
Youthful codes of rebellion are replaced by an adult understanding of them, for one, the clichéd New Wave colours of black and red are a vivid reminder of the past made present – and there is always truth in a cliché. At the same time, an eighties New Wave attitude is contrasted against contemporary technical sportswear.
“I liked the idea that this guy would wear sportswear during the day, but would listen to New Wave during the evening,” says Kris Van Assche.“That these fragments of the past, the things you grow up with, would be brought into the future and guide the direction you want to travel in.”