Berluti: Burnished tailoring at a stylish debut by Kris Van Assche
A packed house inside the Palais Garnier, the famed opera house, where 20 artisans in worn leather aprons poised in a row on the endless marble stairway to greet guests. The message was clear; Van Assche was going to be highly respectful of Berluti’s DNA and its origins as the most exclusive boot-maker in France.
Doubly clear from an opening look, which featured a lean, impeccably cut suit with never-ending pants and a two-button jacket with matching boots made of burnished leather, the signature material for which Berluti is justly famous.
With a dramatic industrial version of a symphony blasted out of the speakers, the cast marched rapidly around the famed opera. Most of them in various forms of leather. You also had to love the long, putty, abstract expressionist chauffeur’s coat with matching stock, and a similar one in glistening pony skin. And Kris’ '80s power shoulder, nipped-at-the-waist suits in forest green and fuchsia. Playing again with the DNA, he even had pendants composed of shoehorns.
“It’s about embracing the current customer, the patina and the know-how; building bridges and promoting the technique to a new customer, younger or older or whatever. Fashion influences do not mean that you are not being very luxurious, that was the challenge of this collection,” said Van Assche, almost tearful after greeting his parents.
A blend of sobriety, sass and snap that collectively made for an impressive debut, which emphasized tailoring above all. Kris also whipped out a new high-tech boot with slanted toe that both Antoine Arnault and his beautiful, willowy partner Natalia Vodianova wore to the show.
“Modern tailoring was the brief and Kris respected that with his own twist. We are very happy with what he is creating,” said Arnault.
The 42-year-old Belgian-born Van Assche joined Berluti from LVMH’s most famous fashion house, Christian Dior, were he was the menswear designer. At Dior Homme he ramped up the street style and sportswear quotient, but chez Berluti he kept that under a tighter rein except for some biker jeans with mock racing insignia.
There were also a half-dozen female models in the show, though CEO Antoine stressed that they were just wearing 'boyfriend’ clothes. “This is a not a separate women’s collection,” said the second-generation Arnault.
There was practically LVMH executive gridlock in the front-row, from: grande capo Bernard Arnault, Sidney Toledano, Serge Brunschwig of Fendi, Antonio Belloni and Delphine and Antoine Arnault, the latter being the CEO of Berluti.
Asked was he excited about reports that LVMH is planning to launch a new fashion label with Rihanna, Arnault senior chuckled, his eyes twinkling like a feline in front of a bowl of milk as he tapped the arm of an editor, responded: “I believe that Rihanna is an extraordinary singer!”
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