kim jones imagines a post-apocalyptic dior
“I was thinking about the future and imagining what a Dior exhibition would look like. It made me think, what have I done that would be in there?”
After creating three epic Dior collections in just eight months, Kim Jones celebrates his first anniversary at the Paris-based luxury house with a collection that considers his place in its future. “I was thinking about the future and imagining a Dior exhibition 50 years from now,” he explained during a preview for yesterday's Spring/Summer 20 show. "It made me think, what have I done that would be in there?” Well, thanks to collections that have built on the attitudes and imprints of Dior's couture heritage -- the silhouettes, the techniques, the materials, the ethos -- and reimagined them for today, there’s plenty.
Against a backdrop of the climate crisis and the very real threat of life as we know it ending, there’s an understandable undercurrent of existential angst and end-of-days ennui running through many of our favourite designers’ minds. This was certainly hinted at the Pepto Bismal-hued dystopian Dior wasteland show venue but it was also no coincidence that this collection was designed as the V&A’s Designer of Dreams exhibition broke attendance records in London. Here, as the past, present and future melded like Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, Kim curated his own legacy as he collaborated with Daniel Arsham, a multidisciplinary American artist famed for his warped architectural designs and installations that examine the archaeology of the present.
Throughout the show Kim and Daniel explored the notion of the relic and explored the almost human quality that the life every haute couture maison takes on. From the vast logos outside the show, to the ephemera of Christian Dior’s office -- all reimagined in geological material -- the pair pondered just what Dior might look like thousands of years down the line. Dior, the show seemed to say, will outlive us all. It is a house in constant evolution, with subtle and radical sartorial shifts, that projects it forward. Yet, there always has to be a connection to the past. There’s no escaping the spirits of the house, and so Kim embraced the ghosts of yesterday’s Dior. As the hands on the clock that has always ticked above the heads of its designers at Christian Dior's atelier in Paris were removed, and the clock itself crystallised by Daniel, the past, present and future co-existed.
But Kim has always understood this. “I'm the designer for Dior but I work for them,” he explained in a preview of his debut collection at his atelier last year. “It’s about them first and me interpreting it. It’s elegant, sophisticated and romantic too, that is what Dior is.” “Ultimately, people see Dior, not all the designers that made up Dior,” Maria Grazia Chiuri explained modestly as we explored the V&A exhibition. “All of the designers, from Yves to Raf, have in their own way used the reference of the founder and the codes of the house, in their own personal style and reflected their own moment, but if you aren’t a fashion historian or a fashion obsessive, it is difficult to see.” In his spring/summer 20 men's collection, while showcasing his own developments that will one day become relics -- the cross-body satin sash tailoring, the reinvented saddle bag, and more -- Kim also rediscovered Galliano’s iconic newspaper print from autumn/winter 00, tweaked the toile de jouy for bombers and jumpsuits and continually turned to couture craft to realise his Back To The Future vision.
The show also unveiled Dior’s first-ever collaboration with the luxury luggage brand RIMOWA -- for which Kim recently became a campaign star -- that combined the German house’s iconic aluminium grooves with the Dior oblique motif and technical trickery. The unique capsule collection included a backpack and a Champagne case that provided an Ab Fab moment on the catwalk. Well, if we have to face the apocalypse we might as well dip into a coolbox and go out drinking, right? We’ll definitely raise a glass to Kim Jones and Dior when the world burns, one of the present and future greats.
Photography Mitchell Sams.