kim jones on the dior collab with punk illustrator raymond pettibon
Exclusively for i-D, Kim Jones discusses the brand's new collaboration and gives us a behind-the-scenes glimpse inside the atelier that created the pieces.
Photography Sophie Carre
Since taking over as the Artistic Director for Dior menswear, Kim Jones has introduced a new artistic sensibility into the label. Or not really new, as before becoming one of the greatest ever fashion designers, Christian Dior spent time working as an art dealer, selling Picassos in Paris. He had to close the gallery during the Great Depression, and ended up working in fashion and launching his own, eponymous label. Art’s loss was fashion’s gain and the rest, of course, is history.
Kim has been busy digging into the life of Monsieur Dior for inspiration and finding parallels between both of them: a love of travel and art unite the pair. “I have been looking deeply into Mr. Dior’s personal life and the legacy of the house for each of the three collections I’ve designed,” Kim explains to i-D, “but especially for this autumn/winter 19 collection. We played with the Dior codes, we took a lot of the different pattern-cutting techniques, shaping and draping of Monsieur Dior, as well as the colours, print and the fabrications.”
Art has also formed a major part of these first three collections. For his debut spring/summer 19 show Kim collaborated with revered street artist KAWS, and for his Pre Fall collection he worked with Hajime Sorayama to create a retro-futurist robotic spectacle in Tokyo. At the most recent show in Paris, Kim turned to another art icon for inspiration, this time alighting on the work of punk hero Raymond Pettibon, who is maybe most famous for his work illustrating cover sleeves for Black Flag and Sonic Youth.
But Kim found beauty and softness in Raymond’s drawings. And with couture-like detail, Kim turned Raymond’s work into beaded vests exhibiting incredible technical skill and beautiful detail, with some of the pieces taking 15 people 1,600 hours to make. It was amazing to see this outsider art icon have his work transformed into pieces of luxury and beauty, so we spoke to Kim Jones to find out more…
Hi Kim. Art has already become a big part of your new Dior universe. What attracts you to collaborating with artists?
I work with lots of different people every day, but I think collaborating with artists is more than that… It’s about working in a modern way. Whenever I work with artists, I give them an idea of what we need to achieve but I respect their vision and want them to do what they want to do. I think that’s the secret of a great collaboration.
What attracted you to Raymond’s work for this season’s collection?
He does a lot of very good pen and line art which I love because it’s really strong and graphic. I’ve known Raymond’s work since I was a teenager because he did a lot of record covers that I loved..
What guided you in the selection of works? You’ve stayed away from some obvious choices and found real depth in his work. It’s really amazing and unexpected.
I selected artworks that reflected Mr Dior’s life and work, using them as themes for the collection. There’s one work about nature, one that’s sort of like a painting, and one that reminds me of the Mona Lisa, or even a Medusa. I thought it was kind of interesting to choose things that relate to the house. Raymond also does romantic drawings and they have this sort of poetry to them that I really like and think, that relates well with the Dior romanticism.
Was it exciting to see this punk artist’s work transformed into clothing via these couture-esque techniques you used this season?
Yeah, it’s so amazing! Raymond’s work has been in my life since I was a teenager, listening to Minor Threat, Black Flag, Sonic Youth and all those things. I like that moment when the punk sensibility is applied and mixed in with the couture sphere.
How did you meet Raymond? When did you decide to work together?
I met Raymond through Stella Schnabel in New York, we started talking about the natural world, which he also loves, and then I said, “I’d love to do something with you, I’d like to look at your archive and to commission you to collaborate with us” and it just happened from there. We selected some of our favourite pieces of Raymond's work, some which had never been seen or shown before, and we also commissioned Raymond to do some more nature-inspired works for us. It was a very easy process. It has been a dream to work with him.
Did Raymond’s influence have any impact on the rest of the collection?
Raymond also created the leopard print for us that you can see throughout, and comes from one of the archive leopard prints. As well as this, we asked him to reinterpret the logo, which we’ve used on the jewellery.
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection and why?
My favourite look is the first one, because it captures the elegance of Dior with a new and harder vibe. There are tactical vests that are beaded with Raymond's work. These pieces were very complicated to make and needed Dior’s atelier unique savoir-faire.
Photography Sophie Carre