FEATURE

Kim Jones Is Designing Menswear For The Future At Dior Man

The British designer’s reign at the house of Dior is shaping up to be a futurist exploration of menswear codes, freely and deftly using vocabulary from the street to the haute couture ateliers.
That Kim Jones is an immensely talented designer was never a question, but it’s perhaps that we have been taking his abilities for granted while he was with Louis Vuitton. The Englishman, having only recently transferred to the helm of Dior Man (the Homme has been redacted and replaced), has already showed two vibrant and current collections that emphasise his place at the top of men’s high fashion.

His Pre-Fall 2019 collection for the house of Dior, shown in Tokyo at the Telecom Center in Odaiba, was one such display of prowess. Jones’ strength is in seemingly having a grasp of everything the contemporary designer and creative director needs. His affinity for streetwear and its culture is quite unparalleled in high fashion right now; he has a masterful hand over tailoring, cut and silhouette; a brilliant graphic eye that can deftly manipulate even challenging prints into elevated design. Point is: he’s got it all. And it’s perhaps now that he has at his disposal the ateliers of the house of Dior that he has a truer creative freedom.
John Galliano used to talk reverently about the possibilities that designing haute couture at Dior afforded him. A laboratory where dreams were made possible, and truly only because these skilled teams of craftsmen are behind five or six-figure garments. I saw that kind of wonder of creation in this show as Jones continued his softening agenda. That is, taking out the stiff canvassing behind the codes of menswear and introducing the feminine in an artful way. And this makes complete sense, considering the range of customers and clients his designs will be serving. You’ve got the skate and street crowd that rally around Dior as a status symbol of aspiration and success. You’ve got the older gentlemen who rely on the brand as a clothier of sharply cut suits. You’ve got the trendy fashion customer who wants a bite of the season’s statement prints and items. And you’ve got a range of younger wearers who embody a less rigidly dichotomous view of sex and gender. Think of Ezra Miller in one of Jones’ creations sipping out of a champagne flute pen before the show.
on Bernard: Newtonic acetate and stainless steel sunglasses, Gentle Monster.
on Victoria: Jacquard suit, Sandro; Safety Pin necklace with pearl, Carrie K.;  Cobalt acetate sunglasses, Gentle Monster.
on Cheryl: Wool suit, Bottega Veneta; Key West acetate sunglasses, Gentle Monster; pearl earrings with gold details, Masterpiece Jewellery; medallion belt, stylists’ own.
on Bernard: Newtonic acetate and stainless steel sunglasses, Gentle Monster.
on Victoria: Jacquard suit, Sandro; Safety Pin necklace with pearl, Carrie K.;  Cobalt acetate sunglasses, Gentle Monster.
on Cheryl: Wool suit, Bottega Veneta; Key West acetate sunglasses, Gentle Monster; pearl earrings with gold details, Masterpiece Jewellery; medallion belt, stylists’ own.
And so the collection came in their myriad forms. A forward-looking sweater and trouser look opened the show, fusing a sporty material, futuristic print, traditional cut, and the shade of grey that was one of Monsieur Christian Dior’s favourite colours. Old and new, a little bit for everyone. It was an effective statement to open with. See Look 4 too, with its luxury combat boots, classic wool trousers, robotic accessories, and a shirt that looks almost haute couture. The rich and luscious astrakhan on the top flows and almost drips into nothingness, ending in sheer toile de jouy on tulle at the bottom. It’s the kind of artisanal marvel that a house like Dior allows, and Jones is making full use of it.

Speaking of robotic, the jewellery and accessories were quite marvellous. Jones has brought on Yoon Ahn of Ambush to contribute the accoutrements to his world. And it’s a great fit. The CD initialed chains and steely saddle bags are a witty extrapolation from the show’s close collaboration with the artist and illustrator Hajime Sorayama. Sorayama’s work famously uses feminine robots dialled to hyperreal eroticism, and there’s that same sexual and vaguely libidinal drive in the pieces.
And so the collection came in their myriad forms. A forward-looking sweater and trouser look opened the show, fusing a sporty material, futuristic print, traditional cut, and the shade of grey that was one of Monsieur Christian Dior’s favourite colours. Old and new, a little bit for everyone. It was an effective statement to open with. See Look 4 too, with its luxury combat boots, classic wool trousers, robotic accessories, and a shirt that looks almost haute couture. The rich and luscious astrakhan on the top flows and almost drips into nothingness, ending in sheer toile de jouy on tulle at the bottom. It’s the kind of artisanal marvel that a house like Dior allows, and Jones is making full use of it.

Speaking of robotic, the jewellery and accessories were quite marvellous. Jones has brought on Yoon Ahn of Ambush to contribute the accoutrements to his world. And it’s a great fit. The CD initialed chains and steely saddle bags are a witty extrapolation from the show’s close collaboration with the artist and illustrator Hajime Sorayama. Sorayama’s work famously uses feminine robots dialled to hyperreal eroticism, and there’s that same sexual and vaguely libidinal drive in the pieces.
In this show, a massive 39 and a half foot tall Sorayama robot was also installed in the center as a sort of showpiece and manifesto. Jones cited Monsieur Dior’s own patronage of the arts as a link to the idea, but more urgently it reconciled exaggerated femininity and absurd machismo. And in the collection, that synthesised into menswear that wasn’t afraid to dip into the feminine. Consider the two closing looks in leather, cut around an archival pattern now for men. It had the suggestions of a kimono with its flat lapels and wraparound pattern and the nipped waist and soft sloped shoulders of the Bar silhouette.
There’s loads to love and ideas to unpack, but ultimately this collection had that all and the most important thing: desirability.

It’s rare and thrilling when a designer is able to create with such clear direction yet keep his finger on the pulse of what people actually want to wear. And it was here in the low hanging fruit of more classic tailored pieces and knits -- albeit very well-done. But more critically, was that Jones put out a truly exciting collection of menswear in a market that seems less interested in innovation, beauty, and elegance than in chasing the streetwear hype machine a la Supreme and inane graphic ironies.

And yet here was the proof in the pudding by the hand of a great talent: you can actually have it all.