Light was the name of the latest Dior Homme menswear show; lean was its silhouette and illustrious the mood in what was probably Kris Van Assche's most accomplished collection for the famed Paris house.
Created mostly in a novel Pacific blue, this spring 2013 collection was a canny exercise in modern day tailoring and construction. So much so, that a quintet of looks were actually made in semi-sheer mesh, allowing one to study in detailing the sartorial edifice.
Throughout the show, the sophisticated clothes looked deceptively simple - so revealing the cuts, darts and inner workings was smart.
"I think tailoring is what Dior is all about. It's the heart of our tradition," explained Van Assche, wearing one of the elegantly austere blue suits from the collection.
"I believe in evolution, not revolution, and that's what I wanted to achieve this season," added the designer, who mingled in some classy suits and redingotes in Prince of Wales check, a preferred fabric of founder Christian Dior himself.
That said, a military mood pervaded the collection, staged Saturday, June 30, on a concrete pathway and under a low canopy of fluorescent lights - a far cry from recent Dior Homme stage sets, which suggested the paneled salons of fine chateaux. Moreover, the designer's recent obsession with a flowing, faintly ceremonial silhouette was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the lines were taught, almost statuesque.
In keeping with the sporty mood of the European season, Van Assche also sent out Breton sailor's jerseys, and trimmed jackets and tank tops with explorer's shoulder buttons. And he edited in just the right soupcon of attitude with Boot Boy versions of brogues, finished with red laces. The same red that trimmed shoe soles or neat black leather weekend bags, and also appeared in mini-collar shirts. Indeed, in the most colorful spring season in Europe in eons, this was the most deliberately narrowest palette imaginable.
"I think it is exactly what Dior Homme should be. Clean and well-tailored," opined Karl Lagerfeld, the couturier and photographer who shoots Dior Homme's ad campaigns. Attired in a black linen Dior Homme safari jacket, he sat front row beside the house's owner, and France's richest man, Bernard Arnault, looking mighty pleased with the collection. As well he should.
But it was above all the sense of understatement that made this all such an admirable collection. Youthful clothes that had gravitas, fine tailoring that had attitude.