What does the role of Jury President involve at Hyeres and how did you approach it?
It was both an honor and a responsibility. It comes down to promoting young photographic talent and bringing our own vision of creation to the table. I thoroughly enjoyed developing the 'Picaflor' exhibition - an interactive installation where giant metallic flowers relate my principle creative influences through sound, image, and even smell.
What has been the highlight of the experience?
Discovering young talents. I was impressed by the strength of the Latvian duo Marite Mastina and Rolands Peterkops. Their world, which mixes crime thrillers and surrealist humor, comes with an admirable mastery of cut. They totally deserved to win the Grand Prix du Jury. Others also impressed me - Alice Knackfuss and also Simon-Pierre Toussaint whose collection expressed a very personal vision.
How important in your opinion are the links between fashion and photography?
Fashion and photography are intimately connected. I have a close dialogue with photographers who follow my work and evolution step by step. With hindsight I’ve been very moved to see how many symbolic photos have punctuated my route: the portraits of August Sander, the work of Sarah Moon. Having someone like Nan Goldin at my side, a benevolent and surprising observer, remains an experience unique of its kind.
Has there been any evidence or feeling that things have changed, either in the work you’ve seen or the festival as a whole, following the economic downturn?
The period is a difficult one for young designers who want to start out. Of course it’s also very worrying for everyone else, too. Fortunately Hyères is an insulated bubble where only creativity counts. The candidates for the various prizes are only beginning their adventure, even if they showed a great sense of professionalism to us. The reality ahead of them is unlikely to shower them with gifts but that shouldn’t hold them back.
How do you balance your role as Creative Director of Dior Homme with running your own signature label at the same time?
Dior is the founding house, a legend of which couture is the DNA. I work there with an embarrassment of means at my disposal, especially so in this time of crisis.
My own house KRIS VAN ASSCHE is young, independent, an experimental laboratory with an endless stream of searching and questioning. The collections – Dior and KVA – are the results of these totally different systems. They’re the fruits of diametrically opposed worlds and so they’re never in competition.
What do you wear to work?
The same as everyone: jeans, shirt, sneakers.
Is there any single thing, person or event you’ve been most inspired by in 2009?
The person that I love.
If fashion wasn’t an option what career do you think you may have had?
We can take you to any store in the world right now with anybody you choose – where would we take you and with whom would you go?
To Dior Homme in Paris with Barack Obama,
Tell us something surprising about Kris Van Assche?
I have no sense of humor.