Kim Jones looks firmly to the future for his latest show at Dior Men
The level of spectacle Kim Jones has brought to his shows so far for Dior has been, to say the least, mind-boggling: take the giant centrepiece of Monsieur Dior rendered in thousands of flowers by the street artist KAWS, or the glossy Hajime Sorayama sculpture of a fembot that was lit up with lasers for his last show in Tokyo. For spring/summer ’20, however, he made it clear that isn’t just about bigger is better. Instead, it’s an active part of his thoughtful approach to staking his claim within the brand’s decades-long history.
Of the many iconic designers who have worked at the highest echelons of the house of Dior, none have worked outside of the shadow of its founder. But Jones’s ambitious artist collaborations are an attempt to take the house’s heritage, and the extraordinary legacy of Christian Dior himself, while bringing it firmly into the future. And who better to understand this approach than Daniel Arsham, the New York-based artist making self-described “future relics”, that take ordinary objects and reimagine them as archaeological artefacts viewed many centuries down the line.
Showing in a pink box with a sand-covered floor, Jones was taking his guests to a futuristic desert wasteland, where a monumental four letters spelling out ‘DIOR’ were crumbling away; but from these geodic cavities, purple crystals had begun to sprout. It was also, he noted, an imagined space for an exhibition staged decades in the future, when students of the history of menswear will undoubtedly crowd around vitrines containing some of Jones’s most important designs (much as they did for the recent blockbuster Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum).
It’s not surprising that Jones would stop to think about the importance of his own work decades in the future, given his obsession with archiving his own sprawling personal collection of countercultural fashion and ephemera, that spans from vinyl gabber records to clothes from the wardrobe of Leigh Bowery. But while there was plenty to chew on with Jones’s time-warp concept alone, it marked another step forward for both his dazzling, inventive way with tailoring at Dior, as well as – to the delight of LVMH head honchos, no doubt – his ability to cook up immediately desirable accessories.
The suits came with his new signature of double-breasted jackets that wrapped from one side of the torso to another, layered with sashes that snaked around the waist to float behind the models as they walked, in a series of colourful ombrés. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Kim Jones without the splashy debut of a few ‘it’ items either: the newly revamped saddle bag made a welcome return, but this time there was both a new collaboration with Rimowa, for whose campaign Jones recently starred. Perhaps most excitingly, there was a delightfully kitschy nod to Galliano-era Dior with the reintroduction of his infamous newspaper print, this time splashed across shorts and shirting.
It was also, as always, an ode to the unparalleled craftsmanship Jones is now able to harness from the couture-level abilities of Dior’s ateliers. Bomber jackets came in meticulously layered organza, shirts were layered with thin slices of leather bonded to georgette silk that made iridescent ripples, while shirts and rompers were hand-painted with toile de jouy prints by artisanal Japanese kimono-makers. Jones might have been obsessing over the future, but thankfully, he didn’t forget to create a perfect – and astonishingly technically accomplished – wardrobe for the man of today.