Dior’s New Dawn: Kim Jones Makes His Debut

  • TextTed Stansfield

The British designer delivers his first collection for the house, which represented his personal interpretation of Monsieur Dior’s legacy – here, he tells us more

It’s about an hour before Dior’s Spring/Summer 2019 men’s show – Kim Jones’ first for the house. Jones is backstage, standing in front of a board bearing photographs of the looks he’s about to present. He’s tired, but in good spirits.

“I think Dior is elegant,” he says of the house, which he joined in March as artistic director. “I think it’s romantic and I think it’s the savoir-faire of couture.”

Outside, the stage is set. Circular and tiered, the space resembles an amphitheatre, almost like a mini colosseum, in the middle of which sits a ginormous sculpture by the American artist Brian Donnelly, better known as Kaws. The whole structure is covered in roses – thousands and thousands of the flower, in pink, black and white.

“I think he’s one of the most important artists for the generation coming up now,” Jones says matter-of-factly of the artist. “Everyone loves his work, they understand it, it’s easy, it’s great. So I commissioned him to do the set for the show.”

As well as this sculpture, Jones enlisted Kaws to reimagine Dior’s bee motif and design some soft ‘BFF’ toys, which he previewed on his Instagram the day before – clutched by his celebrity friends including Kim Kardashian, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, A$AP Rocky and former Another Man cover star, Skepta.

Soon though, it’s time for the show. Guests flood into the show space: press, buyers, Jones’ previously mentioned celebrity friends and several of his fellow designers – Virgil Abloh, who has succeeded him at Louis Vuitton, Karl Lagerfeld, Haider Ackermann and Grace Wales Bonner. And, as a thumping dance mix, crafted by world-renowned DJ and producer Diplo, starts to play, the show begins.

Prince Nikolai of Denmark strides out wearing a relaxed and perfectly cut suit, cream in colour, with striped arms and a sheer top worn underneath. A sheer toile de jouy shirt comes next, followed by more stripes, more beautiful shirting, and more detailing – all modelled by a cast that includes Jones’ longtime favourites Andrew Westermann, David Trulík, and Dominik Sadoch.

“There’s lots of couture detailing in a way of looking at things,” Jones had explained earlier. “I looked at the women’s archives, I looked at Mr Dior’s personal life, but everything was from the beginning of the house. I didn’t look at the menswear because you’ve got two designers working on different brands I don’t think it’s the right thing to do. I work for Dior and I interpret it how I see it.”

The collection was littered with references to the Dior’s 70-year history – from a toile pattern taken from the wall lining of its very first store at 30 Avenue Montaigne (an element Jones described as “very important”), to the classic Dior grey and pink featured in the colour palette and the florals which were borrowed from the designer’s dinner service. Some floral pieces were even covered in a layer of vinyl to emulate the sheen of the ceramics. A double-breasted suit meanwhile paid homage to one of the designer’s early works called the Oblique.

Despite these references to the house’s history, there was a real modernity to the collection thanks to Jones’ streetwear sensibility and the inherent functionality of his designs. This modernity was aided, too, by the buckles designed by Matthew Williams of Alyx, which appeared on bags, belts and caps; and by the jewellery designed by Yoon of Ambush who, in April, was appointed jewellery designer at Dior.

“It has been so easy,” she reflected backstage, wearing an amazing pair of pink sequin shorts by Comme des Garçons, which perfectly complimented the rhinestone bangles she designed for this collection. “I’ve known Kim for a long time so I know what he likes and also Dior has the infrastructure to make anything you like.”

“We were looking at the heritage in terms of who Mr Christian Dior was and some of the archives,” she continued. “I saw the moodboard for the direction that Kim was setting, which was a lot of flowers. I just came up with the ideas to compliment to direction he was going in.” This resulted in elegant and fun pieces that included necklaces, bracelets, rings and two-finger rings featuring sparkling rhinestones, the house’s iconic CD logo and a dog’s bone – a nod to Monsieur Dior’s favourite dog Bobby.

As Diplo’s pounding remix of Insomnia by Faithless sounded and the models circled Kaws’ giant sculpture for the last time, we saw what seemed to be the beginning of a very happy marriage between Kim Jones and the House of Dior. Anticipation had been high, but Jones delivered – and he delivered what we know and love him for: beautiful clothes.