Kris Van Assche Of Dior Homme’s People To Meet: Fashion Show Producer Etienne Russo
Villa Eugénie is the production company behind Dior Homme’s impressive shows and Etienne Russo is the master showman at its helm. And in that capacity, he’s one of Van Assche’s closest and most trusted collaborators. The fellow Belgians knew each other years before they started working together in 2009, and few know the ins and outs of the designer’s mind quite like Russo. “Kris is a composed person, open-minded, precise and focused,” he says. “On a more personal level, while he’s discreet and private, he is also warm, generous and caring.”
With seasonal clients such as Chanel, Hermès and Lanvin on his roster, Russo has become a kind of tailor to the designers on an epic scale, as much a listener as he is an executor of their dreams and ideas. “Every show is a new, exciting challenge,” he says of his Dior Homme experiences, which have included synchronised symphony orchestras, architecturally accurate meadows and graphic rave scenes.
“Kris doesn’t like to do things at the 11th hour. The set is fully ready and a proper rehearsal always takes place the night before the show to avoid any last- minute surprises,” Russo says. “I can see in his eyes straight after the show when he is truly happy and that, for me, is one of the best rewards.”
Over the years, Van Assche’s Dior Homme shows have taken on a decidedly upbeat tempo, rooted in the designer’s reappropriation of the tailoring he loves. Next to Sanchez, who’ll provide a fitting new wave soundtrack, it is Russo’s task to frame Van Assche’s meeting between formalwear and streetwear in an atmosphere that reflects both poles. Case in point: the set he built inside the Grand Palais for the SS18 show, the floor covered romantically in grass while shiny, black strips of film hung menacingly from the ceiling by the million.
This producer, of course, has his share of experience in the 1980s nightlife Van Assche now draws on in his work. After earning a degree from the École Internationale d’Hôtellerie in Belgium, Russo – whose parents are Italian – did art direction for a nightclub in Brussels. He became friends with the Antwerp Six and, “In a nutshell,” he says, “it led me to do Dries Van Noten’s first show – we celebrated his 100th earlier this year.” Along the way, Russo founded Villa Eugénie, which would become one of the biggest production companies in fashion and beyond. What does he consider the highlight of his career, then? “Next season,” he says resolutely. And therein lies the secret to success.
Text by Anders Christian Madsen
Photographer Ian Kenneth Bird
Taken from the latest issue of 10 Men, REBEL HEART, on newsstands now…