Couture for Men: The Elegance and Luxury of Dior Men’s

  • TextTed Stansfield
  • PhotographyMelvin Israel

Another Man meets Kim Jones to discuss his new collection for Dior Men’s and his relationship with the house’s founder, M. Dior

Dior Men’s by Kim Jones can be summed up into one jacket.

It’s currently lying in a box on a table in a subsidiary of Christian Dior Couture on Rue Jean Goujon in Paris, protected by sheets of white tissue paper, like a fine jewel or priceless work of art.

This jacket is the handiwork of 15 petite mains who spent over 1,600 hours labouring over it. It’s embroidered with a symphony of minute beads resembling the Mona Lisa. The piece is an incredible feat of design and craftsmanship.

The reason this jacket sums up Dior Men’s by Kim Jones, besides that design and craftsmanship, is because of its relationship to the house’s founder. It embodies a respectful but emphatically modern translation of M. Dior’s legacy, in a way that reflects Jones’ own wearable and luxurious approach to fashion. If you ever wondered what haute couture pour homme looks like, this is it.

This jacket – perhaps the king of all jackets – was part of Jones’ Autumn/Winter 2019 collection for Dior Men’s, debuted at Paris Men’s Fashion Week on Friday evening. Speaking before the show, the designer explained this collection reflected his ongoing exploration of Dior’s house codes – this time focusing on “tailoring, elegance and couture”.

The soft colour palette, he said, was borrowed from M. Dior’s favourite dresses, while the tiger and leopard prints nodded to his best-loved patterns. Meanwhile, in a blend of couture and tailoring, jackets and coats featured sashes that wove in and out of garments, paying homage to the draping techniques commonly associated with the house, specifically the cut of a 1955 dress Jones saw in the Dior archive.

The show itself reflected Jones’ respectful-but-modernising translation of M. Dior’s legacy, too: it was showcased (as you almost definitely saw on Instagram) on stationary models moving along a giant, 70-metre-long conveyor belt, harking back to the traditional salon-style of fashion presentation, where models stood still. “Because of that massive statue in Japan – you can’t really beat that set for a little while,” he reasons. “So I wanted to take the guys as the statues.”

While he didn’t commission a statue this season, he did work with another artist: Raymond Pettibon, known for his ties with Sonic Youth – the no wave band founded by former Another Man cover star Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. Pettibon envisioned the Mona Lisa-like piece featured on that jacket, as well as a painted leopard print, adding the gentlest of psychedelic touches to the collection.

And yet in spite of the colour, pattern and Pettibon, Autumn/Winter 2019 is heavy with the air of a luxurious minimalism: it’s there in the knitwear, the intarsia furs and the satin. There’s also a sense of the utilitarian, namely in the harnesses and the vests. Of course, it was impossible not to think of the gilets jaunes, or indeed the police who have been attempting to contain them, but this wasn’t the intention: “We were looking at pictures of M. Dior and there were these statues in the background,” he says. “So I thought why don’t we look at the idea of armour, and what armour is now, what the police wear and things like that. So we designed some pieces based on those things but thought let’s do them in fur, do them beaded, let’s go for it.”

It’s often said that everything in life is about balance and perhaps working as the artistic director of a fashion house is the same. It’s about balancing the founder’s design language with your own, respecting its past but modernising it – something that Jones has down to a fine art. This collection effuses the spirit of M. Dior, as well as the designer’s own approach to fashion; is layered with references to its past but contemporary and profoundly luxurious.

Now nine months into his tenure at Dior, I ask Jones if he feels like he is getting to know M. Dior and how he feels about the man who he must spend so much time thinking about.

“You think about him and there’s three things in his life I relate to: his love of nature, his love of art and being a designer,” he replies. “So I look at what he likes, then we look at what that means now and with me working on it. You inject some things that relate to now, you look at it, you respect it but you have to also think now.”