From his namesake label’s debut to his tenures at Dior and Berluti, ‘55 Collections’ canvasses the Belgian designer’s sensational career
Kris Van Assche’s foray into the game of musical chairs that is the fashion industry is an enthralling story—which is why Kris Van Assche: 55 Collections, a volume dedicated to the designer’s professional legacy, couldn’t have come soon enough. Beyond his knack for marrying disparate aesthetic concepts, as demonstrated with his student collections at the Antwerp Academy, Van Assche has always remained just far enough away from the mainstream to keep his finger on the pulse of the world of high fashion.
The palpable folkiness of Van Assche’s classically-tailored aesthetic, married with his nostalgia for the working-class uniform, attracted the attention of Hedi Slimane during his time at Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Homme; he eventually brought Van Assche on as his assistant during the rebranding of Dior Homme. Encompassing the designer’s menswear debut for his eponymous label in 2005, to his own tenures as creative director at Dior in the 2010s and Berluti in the 2020s, 55 Collections proves that Van Assche was never a fated darling of the industry—he fashioned himself through his craft, the mark of a designer dedicated to workmanship over all.
“One collection always leads to the other—it’s an ongoing story.”
“There has been something very positive about this introspection, looking at the designer I have become,” says Van Assche of the book. “When you have over 18 years to go through, method is key. I had never really taken care of my archives. Lannoo, my Belgian publisher, was thinking of a book around 280 pages. It ended up being 432.”
Following an introduction by renowned fashion writer Anders Christian Madsen, the edition intimately covers all 55 of Van Assche’s collections, as the title suggests— behind-the-fashion-show confessions, alongside tales and testimonies from artists, collaborators, and dear friends.
“In the early days, I thought maybe I would not show each collection, [picking] only the ones I preferred,” Van Assche recalls. In terms of what would have made the supercut: the debut of his menswear line in 2005; his first runway show for Dior in 2008; and the women’s collection for his namesake brand in 2010. “But,” he adds, “I understood that one collection always leads to the other—it’s an ongoing story.”
More than Kris Van Assche: 55 Collections follows the abundant career of a designer, it traces the origins of an artist, eventually coming full circle: “As a teenager, I would spend hours [reading] books on designers. Now, I can add my own on the shelves. It’s a great feeling.”