The best way of combating that second album syndrome? Gazzuping the first with maximum effect. You know this, we know this and Kim Jones obviously knows this going by his impressive second outing as menswear creative director at Dior.
Brought forward a day to avoid planned gilets jaunes protests, Jones presented his FW19 offering in a specially designed space – a big black box – situated within the Champ de Mars park in the shadow of the city’s iconic Effiel Tower. Inside, the venue was simple: black walls; black seats; black floor – all focus was on the clothing.
But wait… what’s that? Yes, forget your traditional static runway, this is 2019 the Dior catwalk was a long conveyor belt that ran the full length of the venue. A sharp take on fast fashion? An easy way to make sure models are evenly spaced? An homage to Monsieur Dior’s couture salon presentations was the official line. Regardless of reason, it was a real ‘moment’.
Extending on Jones’ studies into Monsieur Dior, which began at his debut show last season, this time the British designer looked at the couturier’s background as a “gallerist of the avant-garde”. Quick history lesson: rewind back to 1928 when, twenty years before moving into fashion, Christian Dior, with his friend Jacques Bonjean, opened an art gallery on Rue La Boétie. Here, the duo brought the painting The Persistance of Memory by their friend Salvador Dalí to France for the first time. Two years later they opened a surrealist exhibition featuring works by Pablo Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, René Magritte, Alberto Giacometti, Max Ernst, Juan Miró, amongst other eminent names.
Expanding this artistic connection to present day Dior, here Jones’ recruited legendary counter-culture artist Raymond Pettibon – best known for creating the iconic artwork for Sonic Youth’s Goo and for Black Flag’s four bar logo. The LA artist illustrated garments with images of animal eyes and a version of Mona Lisa in, what appeared to be, one of the leopard print knits from this very collection.
Meanwhile, the futuristic vibe extended from the travelator to the collection itself – with the help of a pulsing 4/4 soundtrack. Exquisitely cut slim suiting was updated with louche, couture drapery – think refined Jedi – while seatbelt-esque buckles designed in collaboration with Alyx designer Matthew Williams – first featured in Jones’ debut were the kind of intergalactic safety feature that should come as standard on Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets. These sci-fi tropes later mixed with military utilitarianism, strapped and branded leather gloves were pulled up to models’ elbows, stylised utility vests worn over tailoring resembled those worn by police officers currently patrolling the Parisian streets and the house’s iconic saddlebags were reimagined for men with hardware appeal. (Oh, and extra points if you spotted Jones’ Pomeranian, Cookie, peering out from the bag.)
When exploring the Dior archives, Jones’ undoubtedly found a kindred soul in Christian Dior’s animalier. An avid traveller and animal conservationist, Jones unleashed an archive motif of the panthere that dates back to Dior’s very first collection across lush knitwear that left us purring.
GALLERYBackstage at this show
GALLERYCatwalk looks from this show