For Dior Fall Winter 2023 Men’s collection, creative director Kim Jones reminds us that fashion is a form of performance art all of its own.
Perhaps more than any other designer working night now, Kim Jones knows that fashion – the runway in particular – is a spectacle. A method of theatre where the main actors are the garments.
Where previously the script is normally more tactile – fabrication, texture, the fit of a jacket – this time it was given a more literal element. As models came out, footage of actors Robert Pattinson and Gwendolyn Christie reading lines from T.S. Eliot’s great modern poem The Wasteland, written in the aftermath of World War I, was projected on large screens.
But how did this relate to the cast of clothing?
According to Jones, it tells the story of time passing, and with it the changes that it brings. “I read it as about renewal and change; times changing.
“So it begins with Christian Dior dying, and then Yves Saint Laurent coming in and suddenly doing new things. And there’s a lot of me in it.”
Jones has made introspection a signature detail of his work at Dior, incorporating pivotal moments of Dior’s womenswear in the menswear line. From the cinched waistline of Christian Dior’s New Look to the looser Trapeze dress from Yves 1958 collection, the trajectory of Dior’s innovative silhouettes was written out in full.
All with Jones’ own signature approach, of course.
Rainproof outerwear and vests that mimicked life jackets along with waterproof boots continued Jones’ penchant for fashion grounded in everyday needs. His impeccable take on tailoring found on a marshmallow-soft cream jacket that folded in on itself with trousers that, TARDIS-like, seemed to impossibly contain more volume on the inside or a stunningly simple lapelless two-piece ensemble.
Jones also seems to be determined to reverse the trajectory of the sartorial flow. For years, tailoring and “masculine” elements have been borrowed into womenswear. The tide is turning, with womenswear now in turn changing the face of menswear. Skirts, cardigans, pillowy knits and jackets are now easily found alongside trousers and tailoring.
According to the press notes, Jones the two major rivers of the major cities he calls home, the Thames of London and the Seine of Paris, served as “living inspiration” for the collection.
Long held as a symbol of time, the river has also been used as a metaphor for the nature of change. It was Greek philosopher Heraclitus’ set forth the theory of the river as a symbol of flux, hypothesising that no man steps into the same river twice.
Who can say if Jones has read the work of a 500 BC philosopher (but if we are smart, we should assume he has) but this could equally apply to the manner in which he excavates the Dior archives. These ideas of Jones’ predecessors aren’t fixed moments in time but fluid, ongoing and every new, again.