RetroFuture. Dior Pre-Fall 2023

This was a pretty good Dior Men collection that would do just fine in a studio-shot look-book or a chic, dove-grey Parisian venue. Why Kim Jones took the collection to Egypt? Well, that’s a secret of the Sphinx. During the show, in the middle-distance, a long line of men began to trek over a desert bluff, with the Great Pyramid of Giza as their backdrop. The desert wind cooperated by whipping up their pale, trailing chiffon scarves, asymmetrical capes, and half-kilts as they marched up the incline. Clad in clothes which felt coolly, elegantly avant-garde, sensibly utilitarian, each model embodied Kim Jones’s multiply-coded, yet highly salable method of menswear design for Dior Men. But the collection had pretty much no context related to the Egyptian culture and heritage. Moreover, it felt as if the pyramids became a decontextualized setting. Jones chose to sidestep any obvious references to Pharoahs or Egyptian archaeology. Instead, he was talking about how he was looking upwards to the sky for various star-related references. “Really, I was looking at two things. The ancient Egyptians were obsessed by astronomy, and Monsieur Dior was obsessed by stars and astrology. And,” he added, “when I go into the desert, I look at the sky.” That’s a very odd parallel, but OK. From there, he’d stirred in elements of retro-futurism and up-to-date science interests into a kind of ‘elevation’ of his own. “I’ve always loved Dune, which was really the first of sci-fi. And we’ve worked with NASA on some of the more technical prints.” There were desert boots with 3-D printed foot-guards that looked as if they’d manifested from a computer game. A couple of multimedia helmets with tinted visors looked as if they’d been constructed with future Space X travel to Mars in mind. All the leggings he showed might theoretically complete the kit. The designer has been intent on infusing his menswear with ideas from Dior’s women’s archive for a good while now. There’s an obvious transfer from Dior’s famous petalled ballgown ‘Junon’ into a couple of beaded-edge embroidered vests. Less obvious, but very chic, are all of Jones’s transferences from Dior’s signature gray tailoring. All the gray half-kilts he showed are bias-cut, worn over narrow tailored trousers. The collection didn’t risk any cultural appropriation controversy, clothes-wise. But with such stunning and monumental location, it felt like a missed chance for a truly inventive dialogue that could involve local artists and craftsmen.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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