For Dior Men’s Spring/Summer 2021, Kim Jones arrived home. Not to his traditional home of Hammersmith in London, but his vast and lively home of Africa. Unbeknown to most, the Creative Director spent much of his childhood in countries of Botswana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya and Ghana. It was these culturally alive populations that provided his formative images of life; a genuine connection, a real passion – its nature, its cultures, its people. So when the designer tapped Ghanaian-born, Vienna-Trained artist, Amoako Boafo, for a forthcoming collection, the creative partnership was a natural fit.
Amoako Boafo is known for his paintings which open windows onto a contemporary African lifestyle – specifically Accra Ghana, what has a rich textile history and in recent years has been known as the epicentre for the secondhand clothing trade. It is these colourful portraits which first caught the eye of Kim Jones and form the direct inspiration for intricate garments.
Brought to life through techniques and histories of haute couture. Splashed onto familiar silhouettes from the house and alongside the classic Dior oblique, prints are drawn from the graphic patterns that characterise Boafo’s work. Paintbrush strokes form the texture and layering of key jacquard and knit pieces – the silhouettes almost appear as blank canvasses. And in other pieces, embroideries, knitwear and intarsia are literally translated from specific artworks, drawn from the wearer’s body. Silhouettes are narrow, streamline, sportswear-influenced with the perfect tailoring characteristic of a house, long engrained in couture practices.
As Kim Jones reveals amid the online presentation, the collaborative effort which had begun as early as 2019 was always meant for a runway show but in these uncertain times, Spring/Summer 2021 was instead offered to viewers through a livestream. ‘Attending’ a fashion week event nowadays sees myself on the other side of the world, in bed, with a glass of wine nearby. The magic from the meticulous design work was not lost through the screen however.
Further using Boafo’s work, vivid pastels seen on his work – fluo yellow saturates moiré, alongside blue, coral and green – form the foundation for the presentation backdrop. The video follows a documentary-like format in two parts. A first instalment edited and sound tracked by video artist Chris Cunningham with images shown in London and at Amoako Boafo’s studio in Ghana; and a second unveiling Kim Jones’ creations, directed by Jackie Nickerson.
Jones has always had a knack for working with artists; for Pre-Fall 2019, the designer tapped Japanese illustrator Hajime Sorayama for a futuristic approach and again with close friend, KAWS aka Brian Donnelly, for Spring/Summer 2019 where romanticism met with street art. This unique passion and heritage was passed down by Monseiur Dior himself. And furthermore the luxury French fashion house will lend its support to an art initiative spearheaded in Ghana by Amoako Boafo for the creation of a place of residence for young artists.