Unveiled today, Dior Men's latest collection by Kim Jones presents an explosion of color courtesy of an artistic collaboration with painter Kenny Scharf. Known for his impact on New York's East Village arts scene in the '80s, Scharf's creations for Dior Men mirror the vibrancy and edge of the street art he and contemporaries Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat pioneered.
Sticking to a completely virtual presentation for the runway show, Jones blends heritage with history-in-the-making as we see the designer's second collection created admist the coronavirus pandemic. While consumed in the digital space, the fashion retains its tactile impact thanks to its bold visual codes and artisan approach.
Much like Kim Jones’ previous collaboration, for this collection, Scharf’s maximalist, psychedelic artworks have been received the French fashion house’s savoir-faire craftsmanship through detailed embroidery and prints on outerwears, shirts, accessories and more. Jones reproduced figures and motifs from the graphics through an ancient approach, which nothing short of technical triumph: as the show was supposed to be shown in Beijing, he incorporates one of the most traditional Chinese embroidery techniques called seed embroidery on the fabrics which a process that takes hundreds, if not thousands, of hours. Apart from his archives, Scharf also came up with original artworks specifically for this collaboration which depict the animals of the Chinese Zodiac to represent the house of Dior’s longheld admiration for Chinese tradition and craft, which stems back to Monsieur Dior himself.
The result? A pure escapism that helps you distract from all that is 2020, if only for a moment. Combining elements of Scharf’s aesthetic with the couture sensibilities of the house, the collection awash with so much colours and contrast with fun graphics which inspired by comic books and pop culture cartoons. It’s fun — a psychedelic joyride of colour instead of a studied procession of monochromatic suits that is mood-lifting and that’s no coincidence. “I wanted to make something uplifting, something that is light relief from this strange world we’re living in and for everyone to have ten minutes to just forget everything,” Jones explained. “It’s really about taking that attitude of the joie de vivre that Christian Dior built the house on after World War II.
It seemed as though no stone was left unturned when it came to the amount of research that went through to conceptualise the collection. Every aspect of Scharf’s creative expression was translated into individual elements with tailored precision and effortless contemporaneity that Jones has made his own during his time at Dior.
Jones has consistently amplified his vision for Dior Men with the visual arts. For Spring/Summer 2021, the designer tapped Ghanian artist Amoako Boafo to collaborate on a number of looks depicting the painter's work that centers on the Black experience, and for Pre-Fall 2020, streetwear legend Shawn Stussy brought his illustrative approach to colorful prints.
In addition to the Chinese-inspired imagery and techniques employed on the clothes, the country's culture is also reflected through the collection's accessories. Dior Men jewelry designer Yoon Ahn accented pieces with traditional stones including jade and lapis, while feather and flower expert Maison Lemarié created chrysanthemum boutonnieres to symboize the Chinese flower of vitality.
See the full Dior Men Pre-Fall 2021 collection here: