Modern men’s dress finds many of its origins in the military uniform. The trench coat, the parka, the pea coat, the Breton shirt, and the T-shirt—all are contemporary standards born from the utilitarian needs of army and navy men. For Fall/Winter 2012-13, Belgian designer Kris Van Assche turns the Dior homme into what he calls “A Soldier on My Own.”
Officer green is the season’s key color. The tone turns up throughout the collection, in cashmere flannel and broadcloth, in cotton gabardine, silk twill, chunky rib knits, and jerseys, and is complemented by almond, ecru, beige, and black. This is urban camouflage doused with Dior Homme’s trademark luxury.
Van Assche is no stranger to uniform. The Antwerp-schooled longtime colleague of skinny suit–famed Hedi Slimane (Van Assche worked with Slimane first at YSL Rive Gauche Homme and then at Dior Homme) is known for his attention to detail, understatement, and precision in tailoring. Since taking over Dior Homme, Van Assche has refined a signature silhouette for the brand, maintaining the narrow cuts and skinny lapels of his predecessor on top while pumping up the volume downstairs: trousers sit lower on the hips with ample space in the crotch and pockets, which, for his fall soldier, are hidden in recumbent pleats.
As in uniform dressing, function for Van Assche is essential. “I have always liked the technical part of menswear,” he says. “This collection was about the meeting of formalwear and sportswear. I like to push the boundaries and codes of the male wardrobe, and push the fact that menswear and its uniforms are full of rules one is not supposed to alter.” The quirks are subtle. Army sweaters are extra long and wide-ribbed. Trenches are fully reversible. Jackets are constructed inside out to showcase their craftsmanship. The suit jackets, single and double-breasted, have high closures to ensure an upright composure. Bomber jackets, army-jacket blousons, trench capes, felted wool caps, and mirrored aviators: Dior Homme has us eager to enlist. —FIONA DUNCAN