Kris Van Assche: ‘I wanted the Berluti Essentials to be a modern and elevated collection’
Belgian designer Kris Van Assche this week unveiled his everyday collection of luxury Berluti Essentials. Here he speaks about it exclusively to GQ
Belgian designer Kris van Assche first made his name at Dior Homme (as it was then known), where he spent 11 years as artistic director of menswear pedalling the monochromatic, razor-edged aesthetic with which he has since become synonymous.
When van Assche moved to Dior's LVMH stablemate Berluti in 2018, taking the reins from Haider Ackermann as artistic director, he stuck to his favoured pin-sharp silhouette all the while injecting his seasonal collections with pops of vibrant colour, inspired by the bright polishes used by Berluti's craftsman to patinate the storied brand's trademark Oxfords and Derbies.
He has also played more with texture since joining Berluti, using the luxurious hides the brand had before reserved for its footwear lines in the shape of syrupy overcoats and smart-cut suits.
Now, van Assche has returned to his low-key roots introducing the first ever Berluti Essentials collection, a low-fi ready-to-wear range of jeans, leather bomber jackets, sweaters and accessories designed to be worn by Berluti's ultra-well heeled customer (leather coats from the brand's main line go for upwards of £7,000) when he's not in the mood to rock a seville orange nubuck shirt or a magenta patina biker.
Limited to shades of navy, charcoal, black and chocolate brown, each piece in the new collection is designed with understated everyday living in mind, and - what's more - it's perfect for the inevitable dawn of flexible working that's set to come following the pandemic, dense as it is in easy-wearing basics made from comfortable fabrics in elegant cuts.
We spoke to van Assche exclusively about the new collection, which is available now.
GQ: What was the motivation behind creating the Essentials collection?
Kris Van Assche: I like the idea of pieces that are there to last and wanted to offer the Berluti customer a complementary selection of more classical pieces to Berluti’s main line, which is more enthusiastic and bolder. Whilst still very much inspired by the Berluti heritage, I wanted the Essentials to be a modern and elevated collection which offers more classic pieces that every man should have in his wardrobe.
Which are your favourite pieces and why?
I would say the Lightweight B-Way jacket in Berluti’s patina leather; the construction is exquisite and, of course, Berluti is so much about leather and the ultimate high-end clothing. It was important to include in this collection as much of the leather heritage as possible. There are also the accessories in the printed signature canvas that I designed to look as if it had always existed in the archives.
Who do you see being the Essentials customer?
I do not think in those kind of divisions. These pieces were designed to be worn with the stronger, creative pieces. I feel we all need a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt or a cool knit to complete our outfit while we’re wearing a strong, maybe more seasonal piece. In that sense, every client is an Essentials customer.
How, as a designer, do you differentiate your own essentials collection from those produced by other brands?
By staying true to the maison’s heritage and building on the iconic pieces that the Berluti man enjoys wearing. Two years in my role at Berluti, I felt confident on deciding these Essentials because they came to me as natural Berluti basics, in the good sense of the word.
How did you make sure this was specifically Berluti?
I worked on this collection with the same eye for detail, luxury, quality and creativity that I always do. The choice of materials, sometimes mixed with our patina Venezia leathers, is in perfect connection to the main collections of RTW I have designed. As for the accessories, emblematic shoes and bags go hand in hand with newer designs, but all are done in the same spirit of our high-quality standards.