photo by ALESSANDRO GAROFALO
A new landscape. Both steeped in tradition and constantly looking forwards, the paradox of contemporary Japan mirrors the identity of an haute couture house in the twenty-first century, its inherent interplay of reverence and revolution. The country forms a fitting showcase for the sophomore show of Dior men’s creative director Kim Jones for Pre-Fall 2019: the House debuts a menswear collection in the metropolis of Tokyo for the first time.
The house of Dior has a deep and meaningful history in Japan. Christian Dior was fascinated by the country, examining its culture of dress and utilizing this study to inspire his own work. His haute couture collections were consistently influenced by Asia in general, but Japan most specifically. Wide sashes draped and knotted like an obi, garments subtly crossing and gently holding the body, the soft line of a seamless shoulder, draped like a kimono all are delicate gestures drawn from traditional Japanese dress, present in Christian Dior’s collections and reiterated throughout his career.
Adding to these ageless imprimaturs of Dior’s style, Kim Jones draws on the hypermodern reality of Japanese culture today. He chooses to explore not the historical myth of Japan but its modern actuality, referencing both the country’s storied past and its often-imagined future. The collection is a symbiosis of the traditional and the new, merging couture methodology with cutting-edge technology to create a fresh hybrid.
Tailoring is streamlined and utilitarian, drawing on the idea of uniforms but eschewing uniformity. A trio of essential Dior elements - houndstooth tweed, the color pink and the panthère print - are expounded, each manipulated and rediscovered. Panthère is water colored; houndstooth tweed is specially-woven to appear distressed and age-worn, evocative of an imagined heritage; and Dior’s signature rose intensifies to the sakura-pink shade of Japanese cherry-blossom. It is combined with an entire palette of the pearl grays synonymous with Dior.
Kim Jones continues in a quest to draw constant inspiration from the life of Christian Dior himself, reflecting the intimacy central to haute couture’s enduring appeal. A silk tie, worn by Monsieur Dior and featuring an abstract pattern of quatrefoil flowers, forms the architecture of a new print. Haute couture savoir-faire, integral to the House’s identity, results in treatments that magically meld together furs and laces, and the diagonal line of the Dior men’s Tailleur Oblique is revisited here, and newly explored in coats and knitwear. Like Monsieur Dior’s designs, this collection investigates a conversation between Western traditions of tailoring and the Japanese kimono, sensuously wrapping the body in cloth.
Alongside the old, the new. Fabrics are treated with a technologically-advanced metalization technique, applied to entire items of clothing. This results in furs and leathers that glimmer like an automaton in iridescent blue and silver, while metallic-printed calfskin is laser-etched to give it the supple fluidity of silk. Cannage patterns are laser-cut into rubber and leathers, the patterns bonded to denims.
Accessories toy with kawaii notions of scale, dinkily undersized or blown-up and hanging with additional pochettes like charms. The Dior ‘Street Chic’ accessories line of 2002, featuring external pocket components which can be added and subtracted from bags, is revived. It is both stylish and utilitarian, functional, allowing endless innovation and customization that influences other approaches, with a miscellany of variants on Kim Jones’ revitalized men’s Saddle bag, designed to be worn in multiples. These accessories combined nylons with leathers, as well as the signature Dior Oblique canvas. Shoes are vacuum-formed, modernist, tipped in rubber and subject to the same innovative metalization treatments as the clothes, formal shoes and combat boots given the high-performance dynamism of sneakers.
Inspired by Christian Dior’s nascent career as a gallerist in the 1920s, Kim Jones curates a new collaboration between the house of Dior and a boundary-redefining artist, intrinsically tied to the cultural landscape of Japan. A selection of pieces in the show have been created with Japanese contemporary artist Hajime Sorayama.
Sorayama has also devised the show décor - the centerpiece of which is an idealized female figure, a monolith echoing Monsieur Dior’s own constant celebration and deification of the female form divine. Sorayama’s artwork, featuring his signature futuristic organic-robotic gynoids alongside Japanese-inspired foliages, are used to decorate a series of separates in silver Mylar, as the foundation of a new embroidered lace, and also a collection of accessories combining his imagery with the Dior Oblique canvas in contrasts of inky midnight blue and sakura-pink. Sorayama has also reinterpreted the Dior logotype - two signatures, meeting - and his humanoid and animal automata become charms and pendants.
Outside of the collaboration, the optimistic futurism of Sorayama’s oeuvre inspires the whole collection, in treatments, approaches, creativity. An android sheen is approximated through gloss and lamé fabrics, but also pure metal. The prominence of jewelry is naturally heightened: substantial, industrial-inspired chains, designed by Yoon Ahn includes nods to the robotic through nuts and bolts, and Sorayama’s Dior insignia is transformed into necklaces, rings and brooches. The most extreme examples of metallization blur the line between bijoux and garment: there are glistening steel caps created by milliner Stephen Jones, and a new interpretation of Dior’s emblematic Saddle bag, now entirely in polished metal. A limited-edition collector’s piece, a masculine minaudière - this is fashion as objet d’art.
Dior Pre-Fall19 Men’s Collection
On Friday evening in Tokyo, the Telecom Center in the futuristic district of Odaiba played host to the Pre-Fall 2019 Show by Kim Jones. Discover the scenography.
David Beckham, Bella Hadid, Hiroomi Tosaka, Kiko Mizuhara, A$AP Rocky, Kate Moss and many other celebrities were dressed in Dior creations for the Pre-Fall 2019 show presented in Tokyo.
Discover the collection on Dior.