dior’s catwalk conveyor belt took couture to 2019 and beyond
“This was probably my best ever show.”
Photography Mitchell Sams
Before the first model stepped onto the 76-metre long catwalk conveyor belt, Kim Jones confessed that “this was probably my best ever show.” He wasn’t wrong. For his third epic Dior collection in just eight months, Kim pushed himself further than ever as he continued to draw on the attitudes and imprints of its couture heritage -- the silhouettes, the techniques, the materials, the ethos -- before reinventing them.
As his motionless models travelled past eager eyes -- “they’re like statues, standing there as they do in the couture salon” he explained -- soundtracked by Honey Dijon, his future-proofed monuments to modern luxury represented a brave new world of menswear. Ultimately, Dior autumn/winter 19 was about taking the sensibility of couture and adding the spirit of now. This was the new New Look, a tailleur for tomorrow, a flou for the future.
From hyped new arrivals to an inspired old guard, a new energy has swept through the luxury houses of Paris in recent seasons and its artistic directors are offering multiple definitions of what luxury is in 2019. For Jones, working with an atelier for the first time, luxury is reinterpreting the codes of Monsieur Dior through the language of his couture house. A curation of the past, reinvented for the now. “I'm the designer for Dior but I work for them,” he explained in a preview at his atelier before his stellar spring/summer 19 debut. “It’s about them first and me interpreting it. It elegant, sophisticated and romantic too, that is what Dior is.”
Here, he continued delving ever deeper in the house that Christian Dior built and was drawn to his background as a gallerist of the avant-garde of his time. For autumn/winter 19, it was mirrored in a collaboration with the artist Raymond Pettibon, known for his album artwork for bands like Black Flag and Sonic Youth. From the beaded embroidered eye-adorned tactical vest opening look through to the art-souvenir “manifestation of womanhood” Mona Lisa-esque illustration that closed the show, the collaboration was a conversation between artist, designer and couturier. These pieces encapsulated the mood of the collection. From feminine to masculine, from art to fashion, from then to now, Jones was teasing translations and pushing a new conversation. Of course, everything was derived from Dior, from the house’s emblems and markers, but it was built on, but it had to be evolved. For Jones, it is all about examining the past and making it speak to the future.
Now, the ever-accelerating procession of shows, presentations, and launches can leave you at the end of a season with the feeling that you’ve just watched a fashion version of The Generation Game -- a fun for all the family BBC TV show -- in which you can’t quite recall everything you’ve seen. With his show set, Jones turned that on its head. Such was the power of his proposition, we can recall every shape-shifting silhouette. The architecturally draped half scarf, half sash-embellished tailoring -- “That idea came from looking at the cut of a 1955 dress in the Dior archive, but I wanted it to have ease and elegance,” he explained. How the animalier came to the fore as Monsieur Dior’s beloved panther -- introduced in his first collection in 1947 -- was joined by tiger and leopard patterns in knitwear.
The accessories, made in collaboration with Matthew Williams, that continued to translate the iconic Dior Saddle bag into a men’s wardrobe, alongside a series of cases designed for the everyday electronic essentials including sleek cases in Raymond Pettibon-printed plexiglass, leather or Dior oblique canvas, all designed to fit not one but two iPhones. See, every little detail was built for the future. Talking of which, our new life goal is to walk less, travelator more. All the better while wearing next level couture-influenced tailoring. Now that’s tomorrow’s world today and as the rest of the industry moves after Kim Jones, that’s what they really mean by keeping up with the Joneses.