Berluti designer Kris Van Assche on embracing change and breaking into the future
Kris Van Assche, the softly spoken Belgian at the helm of Parisian menswear house Berluti, is desperate for a digital detox. For the past two days he has been presenting his spring/summer 2021 collection via Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica Zoom calls and FaceTime sessions, trying to showcase the intricacy and artisanship of the brand’s leather craft, suits and delicate silk shirting via a juddering Wi Fi connection and the now familiar pleas to ‘unmute’. There’s only so much detail you can garner about a sweater when it’s in front of an iPad camera.
“So it’s nice to get away from the screen and talk things over in person,”says the slight, elfin designer when we meet in his atelier in the 8th arrondissement of Paris to peruse rails of clothing as the sun streams across the city. “It’s aaa replica designer handbags funny, during this whole period we’ve become reliant on technology, but it’s underlined for me just how essential the human part of the process is,”he says.
While the ‘shout it from the rooftops’ aesthetic of other brands might parlay well into the digital world, the quiet nuances of Berluti are difficult to convey via smart screen. That’s because the historic bootmaker, founded in 1895 by Alessandro Berluti and acquired by the LVMH luxury conglomerate in 1993, is all about the detail. Of course replica designer handbags there are the shoes historically worn by the likes of Andy Warhol, Yves Saint Laurent and Frank Sinatra but also the sharp tailoring and innovative leather craft that have evolved during Van Assche’s stewardship of the brand.
He took over in 2018, after an 11 year stint at Dior Homme, during an almighty game of menswear musical chairs. The house’s former creative director Haider Ackermann announced his departure after three years of steering Berluti in a darker, more glam rock direction. Van Assche fake louis bag jumped ship from Dior, replaced by Louis Vuitton’s Kim Jones. Keeping up? Just one year after his debut collection, coronavirus and the ensuing lockdown took hold.
It’s been a period of reflection for Van Assche. “Personally, I think I’ve become more patient, and I’ve cooked for the first time in 20 years instead replica louis vuitton bags of relying on local restaurants,”he jokes. He first moved cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk to Paris in 1998 after studying womenswear at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp.
Van Assche, originally from the small replica louis vuitton handbags Flemish town of Londerzeel (his mother worked as a secretary and his father was in the automotive industry), arrived in the City of Light at just the right time: he had signed up to an internship in the menswear department of Yves Saint Laurent, then under Hedi Slimane, just as his star was in the ascent. Soon Slimane was installed at Dior Homme in what was to become one of the most high voltage menswear moments of recent memory, with Van Assche his second in command. By 2007, he had taken over the Dior reins.
Of the effect lockdown has had on his work, Van Assche says, “I think what we’ll learn from this is that the craft way, the artisanal way, the limited edition rarity of what we can do at Berluti, is going to become super important. In a world where everything is virtual, there’s something very special about going back to the USP of tactility; feeling the leather, looking at the stitching.”
That expertise is embedded in the sole of a Berluti shoe. The house is the apogee of artisanal leather craft one of France’s national monuments. The Italian Alessandro Berluti hailed from Le Marche, the hub of Italian shoemaking; Tod’s was also founded there. After relocating to Paris during the glory days of the belle poque, the young cobbler found his elongated, angular style in vogue with the high society of the day.
Toulouse Lautrec wore Berluti to the Moulin Rouge, Visconti liked his with a glossy patina, and Sinatra threw a fit when he learnt that his bespoke pair would take a year to make. When I visited Olga Berluti’s paint splattered workshop some 14 years ago, the granddaughter of the founder who would personally fit Saint Laurent’s and Warhol’s shoes showed me the specially decorated lasts of famous clients. Warhol’s were in Coca Cola logos, Sinatra’s in piano keys, and Visconti’s in pearls and feathers.
To own a pair was to become part of an exclusive club quite literally: Olga, who is now retired, set up the Swann Club as a collective of clients who would be wined, dined and taught how to polish their shoes with the dregs of their champagne, to lend an ‘effervescent patina’, replica louis vuitton bags from china she told me.
Does Van Assche feel a responsibility as the custodian of this rich history? “Yes, there has always been this historic client, but he’s actually not as classic as you might think. The design of a Berluti shoe was always eccentric; there was a twist to it. These men Gianni Agnelli, Jean Cocteau, JFK they didn’t want to be invisible on the street,”says Van Assche.
And no one could accuse his own interpretation of Berluti of shrinking into the shadows; the designer developed an angular, jagged take on the classic Berluti shoe, as well as suits in rich jewel toned leathers and coats in neon yellow, fuchsia and lime.
Van Assche’s aesthetic has always veered towards quieter and darker territory his work at Dior explored music and artistic subcultures cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk , for example so the Berluti look is a surprising departure. The Swann Club named after Berluti enthusiast Marcel Proust’s debonair man about town protagonist Charles Swann may have closed, but Van Assche has amassed a millennial cohort of K Pop stars and models such as Bella and Gigi Hadid as fans Designer Louis Vuitton Replica Handbags , for whom the bright, bold aesthetic translates well on Instagram.
“Colour was a totally new thing for me, anyone who knows me knows that,” Van Assche says; in the 11 years I’ve been acquainted with him, I’ve never seen him wear anything other than a cheap louis vuitton bags from china uniform of black, and his collections at Dior Homme stuck to a monochrome palette with occasional punkish touches of red and yellow.
Today, he’s getting experimental with the paintbox his autumn/ winter collection comprises rainbow bright hues and clashing patterns on shaggy faux furs. “Suddenly I’m a colour freak. high quality replica handbags china Patina was a new thing, too cheap louis vuitton bags from china uk , but I think it’s healthy for a designer to clash his identity with the identity of the brand,”he says.
He’s gone back to the drawing board, too, toying with the leathers synonymous with shoemaking and adapting them to ready to wear clothes; Van Assche demonstrates this by showing the lightness of a shirt made in paper fine leather. “I’ve been trying new things with our R department I think they expect me to ask them to make a leather swimsuit next or something.”
Working within unexpected constraints has been a hallmark of 2020, but for Van Assche the pandemic has been an education. “It has reminded me how essential it is to have that up close contact, not just with the clothes but with my team, the artisans, the clients. Berluti needs to be experienced in real time.”Try as Apple’s Tim Cook and the rest of Silicon Valley might, the smooth flow of a liquid light leather coat or princely pair of shoes won’t cheap replica handbags be replicated digitally any time soon.