CWMALLS World’s Fashion Trends Sharing And Review Series — Dior Men

Every single designer who has worked for the maison Christian Dior since Monsieur popped his clogs in 1957 has had to contend with his “spirit.” Sometimes, it can seem absurdly far-fetched, not to say creatively constricting, for a designer to have to limit him or herself to obediently meditating on what the founder did over the course of the 10 short post-war years in which he reshaped women’s fashion with his corsets and circle skirts.

Harder still for a men’s designer like Kim Jones, because going back a few decades, the Dior reputation in menswear was simply that the house provided conventional gray suits, safe for middle-management upwards. Jones, however, is 21st century smart. He says he sees Christian Dior from the point of view of very long term legacy—what history will record that he contributed to the house, in the future. Which is why he saw a connection with the American artist Daniel Arsham, whose practice is imagining future archeologies—what people (if there are people, by then) will make of the clues humans leave behind about our cultures and technologies, centuries hence.

Jones commissioned Arsham to make an installation of giant DIOR capital letters, crumbling cement sculptures installed amidst serenely surreal pink desert sand. Above the entrance to the show was a faux clock, cracked and chipped; it was a reimagined replica of the one which Arsham and Jones saw in a photograph of Christian Dior in his office in the ’50s—the very same one is there today, ticking away the minutes as all of Jones’s predecessors have come and gone.

It gave him a conceptual landscape in which to place his own rediscovery of the gray Dior man’s suit, once thought impervious to fashion and strictly separated in its 20th-century masculine gendered category, still a huge category for the brand. Jones, cleverly, has set about putting his own imprint on the business by continuing to put tailoring at its core—not going so far as to scare off the existing customer—but by incrementally transferring flourishes and techniques from the women’s couture side of the house. Last season, he unearthed the key to this Dior solution when he added a diagonal satin sash—a memory of Christian Dior’s haute couture—to the template of the male suit. It’s met with success, he says. “People have been ordering them for weddings—lots of men, women, too. It’s become a real business of its own.”

So he’s continued developing that for summer, integrating the sash, normalizing it as more of a lapel detail, or minimizing it as a cross-body drape which disappears into a jacket’s side-seam. The idea that Jones’s new generation of Dior discoverers might belong to a team of desert archeologists was lightly pursued. They wore calcified lily of the valley brooches. Relics left behind from John Galliano’s time at Dior had been rediscovered. His newspaper prints reappeared on shirts and the shape of the Dior saddlebag, used in a bleached-out replica, was echoed in curved pocket-flap signifiers on backpacks.

Jones clearly believes that 21st century men see the rigid gendered binaries their fathers and grandfathers conformed to as a thing of the past. He sees Millennials and Gen Z customers in LA, New York, Shanghai, and Seoul ready to adopt toile de jouy print jumpsuits or organza bombers, delicately embroidered with blue hand-pleated swirling patterns (Jones said he’d taken that motif from Arsham’s Japanese raked-sand installations.)

But he also inuits that these young guys see the classic template of the tailored suit with unprejudiced eyes. Jones’s insight is that men’s fashion at Dior can move forward by accessing the elegance of the past, wondering at the beauty of what can be discovered in the foundations. A sound way to construct a future.

 

 

Sources from: Vogue

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