Virgil Abloh’s first outing at Louis Vuitton wasn’t the only menswear debut people were talking about at Paris Fashion Week. Kim Jones, formerly of Louis Vuitton, was named artistic director of Dior Homme—which now goes by Dior Men—earlier in 2018. He debuted his vision on Saturday evening with a celebrity audience and excited members of the press.
It was an affair steeped in historical references but it also strived for something modern.
Changing the name to Dior Men could be a nod to the founder. Monsieur Dior shocked the beauty industry when he anglicised the name of one of his fragrance’s—it was Miss Dior instead of Mademoiselle Dior. The more direct influences from the founder were the array of blooms he had printed and embroidered on the clothes or the prints of Bobby, Monsieur Dior’s dog. There was also a gargantuan cartoonish sculpture, 10-metres-tall in scale and consisting of 70,000 pink, black, and white flowers which was commissioned by American artists KAWS.
He also wove in references to John Galliano’s historic reign as creative director of womenswear at the French house, recalling his couture collections both in colour and practice. An embroidered patchwork jacket took multiple artisans one week to complete one patch and the palette looked at early-00s couture shows. He also introduced a Dior 'Saddle' bag for men; Galliano conceived the accessory in the 2000s and Maria Grazia Chiuri, the women's division's current artistic director revived it recently.
The lightness of his debut reminded one of Raf Simons’ first Dior haute couture presentation in 2012, there was something hopeful and optimistic about it.
Romanticism was perhaps the main takeaway from the collection. Colours were light, in soft pastel shades, and tailoring was airy. It opened with striped, double-breasted suiting and sheer, floral-pattered shirts. Blazers were pinned to one side of the body, creating a romantic drape across the model—there was something attributable to womenswear about it, in part due to Naomi Campbell bedecked in a similar creation front row. It was a reference to an original design by Monsieur Dior, called the ‘Oblique’. It was an interesting
The majority of the looks were styled with trainers which imbued utilitarian inflections. It merged suiting and the street, menswear’s latest proposition. Virgil Abloh attempted this train of thought at Louis Vuitton the other day, too. The focus on tailoring is a departure from the streetwear-saturated market menswear has become but the whiffs of the urban landscape were still unmistakable, potent.
The styling was in line with contemporary attitudes but it wasn’t thought-provoking. Yes, men are beginning to dress in a more casual way and designer’s are dictating a continuation of this but it doesn’t upheave any preconceived notions about men’s dressing.
The British press waxed rhapsodical about the show but the content of their coverage could easily have been written with their eyes firmly shut—Jones is popular. His arrival will likely signal the dawn of a new era for Dior Men. He clearly has a loyal fanbase of eager customers who will ostensibly follow him. But as he progresses, it would interesting to see him pose a challenge to menswear instead of serve it, and perhaps surprise his audience, the way he did with his Supreme collaboration at Vuitton. Right now, notwithstanding the hype, there’s nothing particularly groundbreaking. However, it’ll rake in bucketloads.