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PARIS, January 28, 2006 - Kris Van Assche's third men's collection explored the subject of masculinity and beauty. Program notes talked about "hommes-fleurs" from the Arabian dessert - beautiful men that affirm their masculinity with scent, color and flamboyant adornment. But how do you redefine male beauty without sliding into androgyny? That requires a very careful bit of maneuvering, an art at which Van Assche is an expert.

While white rose petals fell from the ceiling, models headdress gradually changed from oversized belle époque top hats to laurel wreathes sprouting garlands, but his razor-cut suits never budged from a decidedly masculine set of codes. Of particular interest was a series of knit cummerbunds left unfinished, threads cascaded from the waist, and a double (low and lower) set of trousers. The tailoring of the suits was exquisite.

Van Assche is continuing to develop his own style, and while it might be heavily influenced by his former boss, Hedi Slimane at Dior Homme, he's finding his own voice.

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