For his first, hotly foretasted Christian Dior collection, Kim Jones went back to the origination. The British designer mined the Dior archive for inspiration to pay payment to the man who established the fabled brand in 1946.
“The collection is really based on Mr Dior’s in the flesh life,” Jones told the Observer at a preview in the Rue Marignan atelier. “It is the stance of looking at different parts of his life.”
Jones made his coming out in Paris on Saturday afternoon as artistic director for Dior Men, the rechristened Dior Homme, consummating the changing of the guard for the spring/summer 2019 season. In a eulogy to Dior and to his own heritage, Jones invited Prince Nikolai of Denmark to start the brag. “I’m half Danish and Mr Dior always had that thing with kingship, and so I thought it would be nice to open with a prince – very much glamorous isn’t it?”
Jones had only been at the brand name for three months, following his departure from Louis Vuitton in January, and grants he didn’t have much time to dig deep. The elements he pinpointed on in this first collection, however, will resonate with aficionados of the taste house. Toile du jouy patterns from the wallpaper in the anything else Dior boutique were used on jacquards and leathers; botanical logos referenced Dior’s love of horticulture; the famous cut used by Dior himself prompt the tailoring and the name of the new jacket, the Tailleur Oblique; and pink and griseous, shades synonymous with the brand, were used during.
This aesthetic path lends itself to a softer, more relaxed Dior Men than we are reach-me-down to seeing. Jones’s predecessor, Kris Van Assche, who has since stimulated to fellow LVMH-owned brand Berluti, favoured dark palettes and unscrupulous tailoring during his 11-year tenure. Before him, Hedi Slimane was spoke for his skinny suits – Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld was whispered to have lost more than 40kg to fit into one of Slimane’s origins.
The show notes said that this was about “paraphrasing a quintessentially feminine couture identity into a masculine patois.” This intention mostly resonated with the striped garment-maker that appeared to be similar to the lining of a suit, but had sheer organza overlays.
It is also a order from the streetwear influences of which Jones was a proponent during his constantly at Vuitton. He was the man behind its sellout collaboration with Supreme finish finally year. “I’ve moved away from that a bit,” he explained. “[That’s] leisurely modern menswear; this is a lot more elegant and sophisticated and a minute bit romantic too, which is what Dior is.”
There were, anyhow, sportswear influences; footwear featured trainer, shoe and boot compounds, while baseball pumps and caps completed most looks. In the new Dior Men overjoyed order, this is representative of “contemporary masculinity”.
To elevate the whip-round, Jones featured couture techniques with pieces such as the appliquéd feather and bead-embellished shirts. Trench spreads were crafted from embroidered tulle and organza, while hand-sewn florals were layered with camouflage printed silk. Through transparent vinyl, florals and feathers – reporting the ceramics found in Dior’s personal archive – could be grasped. “We wanted to have very light touches, so that it has an peacefulness to it and makes it effortless,” explained Jones.
The monsters will be a main takeaway from the collection. The brand’s legendary Saddle bag has been made for the first time for men, and came in taupe and felonious backpacks, cross-body and belt-bags. The latter swung as the models stole to the sounds of Underworld’s Born Slippy and Orbital’s Halycon in a soundtrack half-bred by the DJ Diplo.
There were plenty of playful accessories that pleasure, no doubt, attract a young audience. Dior’s favourite dog was commanded Bobby, so Dior Men’s jewellery designer, Yoon Ahn, created rhinestone-embellished dog-bone keyrings, as kind-heartedly as a perfume dispenser in the shape of the dog and its owner. Double rings (for two get cracking accuses) are made from precious stones, such as lapis lazuli, onyx and amethyst, while iPhone packs have finger grips spelling out the brand’s name so that “when you tackle prove a selfie in the mirror, you can see Dior”.
Jones has also join forced with New York-based artist Kaws, otherwise known as Brian Donnelly, on reimagining the prominent Dior bee, the emblem synonymous with the house. This awakened embroidered on floral shirts, as well as accessories. Donnelly invented a BFF doll (already popular on Instagram) dressed in clothes from the sprightliness/summer 2019 Baby Dior collection. He also created the set for the play, with an imposing 10ft floral BFF version of Mr Dior – made from pink, unblemished and black roses and peonies – holding a white version of the Bobby fragrance bottle. Elsewhere, Matthew Williams of 1017 Alyx 9SM made the metal buckles seen on associates, while milliner Stephen Jones reimagined headwear from the archive also.
Jones is ecstatic to share the limelight with his collaborators and encourages new design proclivity. The London-born Central Saint Martins graduate has been unmistakable on the fashion scene since his teens. After setting up his eponymous description shortly after graduating, Jones was headhunted by Dunhill to be its artistic director, only to be poached by Louis Vuitton to design its menswear shilling-mark three years later, a role he held for seven years.
He has once spoken of insisting on higher wages for his design team at Louis Vuitton when the handful of collections they were producing per year increased along with returns at the house. While Jones was in charge, revenues continued to propagate at the brand year on year, while his Supreme collaboration was pronounced by LVMH to have significantly contributed to its overall 23% profit extend in the first quarter of last year.
Only two weeks previously his Saturday debut, the 44-year-old was in London supporting friends Edward Crutchley and David Beckham at their London attitude week men’s shows. (Beckham was the first person to wear one of Jones’s Dior creations, at final month’s royal wedding).
There’s a lot of love for Jones. Models Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, who both trudged the lap of honour with Jones as he took his final bow at Vuitton, Victoria Beckham, rapper A$AP Stony, actor Gwendoline Christie and Kim Kardashian were among cohorts who arrived early in Paris to congratulate Jones in the Dior atelier as he completed settled fittings.
So too, was Virgil Abloh, Jones’s Vuitton successor, who showed his in front collection on Thursday. Jones, who was there cheering, told the Onlooker that Abloh and his mentor, rapper Kanye West, familiar to sleep on his sofa 12 years ago when they were all worrying to make it. “It’s nice to go full circle with friends,” he said.