From the outset, it's evident that 55 Collections is more than a mere retrospective—it's a testament to Van Assche's influence on the fashion landscape. The comprehensive journey through his early days at the prestigious Antwerp Academy, a decade designing under his eponymous label, an influential stint at Dior Homme, and a transformative period at Berluti only took about... a full year of meticulous archiving.
More than simply delving into his formative experiences, there is a personal touch in weaving story of his small-town childhood in Londerzeel, his chic grandma, a love for new wave, encounters with the Antwerp Six, and his time working alongside indie sleaze extraordinaire Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent and Dior Homme during the noughties.
The contemporary menswear maestro's groundbreaking choices for that time are all encapsulated in there. The fusion of tailoring with workwear silhouettes, the modernisation of couture shapes with athletic adornments, and—a sin if unmentioned—his ability to bridge the gap between high fashion and youth culture. Attracting icons like A$AP Rocky, photographer Nan Goldin, and director Larry Clark to the Dior Homme fold surely marked a defining era.
The book doesn't just chronicle runway shows and presentations though; it's a deep dive into Van Assche's intuition, revealing the stories behind each collection. It's a journey that spans subcultures, from skate ramps and hints of emo to Depeche Mode soundtracks, creating a lineage that transcends generations.
Introduced by renowned fashion writer Anders Christian Madsen, the 55 collections of life work is intimately captured by Lannoo Publishers alongside behind-the-scenes confessions and testimonials from collaborators and dear friends. Editorials featuring Cindy Sherman, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, and Beyoncé add a rich layer to the (if we can call it) detailed scrapbook.
Documenting the life of a designer who saw through a transformative period in the industry, it's both a celebration of craftsmanship over celebrity status, and an enthralling first-person narrative of a visionary who left an indelible mark on the world of high fashion.
55 Collections is available for purchase from 1 November.