The intrepid Belgian designer has teamed up with ceramic artist Brian Rochefort on a menswear collection inspired by volcanoes

Kris Van Assche was appointed as creative director at fabled French menswear brand Berluti in 2019, just as a seismic shift in the world of menswear was taking place—Virgil Abloh moved to Louis Vuitton and Van Asshe’s mentor, Hedi Slimane, had just replaced Phoebe Philo at Celine. So it is no surprise that the intrepid Belgian designer would organize one of the more inspired collections in the time of social isolation. This season, Berluti has teamed up with Los Angeles-based ceramic artist Brian Rochefort to collaborate on a menswear collection that oozes with color and patterns that resemble the geologic artistry of fresh volcanic lava. 

“I really love fashion shows, and I love the emotion.” Van Assche expressed in a video collaboration with Rochefort. “There is this one thing that you cannot do in a fashion show which is [press] pause, and explain where things come from. I thought it was a once in a lifetime occasion to actually give people the background [of the collection].”

The pressure valve of fashion week and the obligatory shows has been released this season, giving way to more cerebral explanations and cogitations on practice and process. For Van Assche, as with Jonathan Anderson, isolation in the time of COVID-19 has brought introspection and a chance for designers to reflect on what goes into a collection. In the absence of a runway show, we asked Van Assche a series of questions to gauge how we may best experience Berluti’s latest fashion unveiling.

Document Journal: What music should be playing when you see the collection?

Kris Van Assche: “No Good” (1994) by The Prodigy 

Document: What is the smell of the collection?

Kris: Lava from a volcano.

Document: What should we be sitting on in an ideal world?

Kris: In an ideal world, we’re all sitting on Pierre Jeanneret armchairs, or Judge’s Chairs, in bright color patina versions.

Document: Where should we imagine the runway is?

Kris: I would ask Brian Rochefort which volcano was his inspiration for the works and take the runway back to that place, hoping it would be a tropical island. A way of taking my inspiration back to its inspiration.

Document: Who is in your dream front row?

Kris: My grandmother, my mom and dad, Madonna and Sean Penn when still married, President Obama, Ricky [Martin] and Jwan [Yosef], Robert Mapplethorpe…

Document: Which one person, alive or dead, embodies the spirit of this collection.

Kris: He’s more of an imaginary character.

Document: What are you serving at your afterparty?

Kris: White wine with a lot of ice.