Men’s – Sublime Gardener. Dior AW22

I really loved Kim Jones‘ autumn-winter 2022 menswear collection for Dior. It might come as a surprise that Jones, who has devoted most of his Dior collections to collaborations (which sometimes feels to predictable) with artists and writers, approached his 75th anniversary homage to the house as a one-man show. “We’ve done a Birkenstock, but only because we didn’t want to do a Christian Dior gardening shoe and copy it,” the designer told Vogue. In true grande maison style, Jones erected a life-size copy of Pont Alexandre III in a tent on Place de la Concorde, just a stone’s throw from the real one (not a very sustainable approach…). The nasal might of Christian Dior spoke on the soundtrack with godlike authority as Jones’s interpretations of the couturier’s signature silhouettes bathed in his favorite “Dior gray” strolled along the bridge’s banister. It was a straight-forward exercise: from the Bar jacket to the wrap coat and the cannage, Jones worked each of the Dior icons into something that would resonate with a contemporary male customer. “It’s really complicated pattern-cutting but it looks so simple. That’s the beauty of it,” he said, pointing at one of the jackets on his board of looks. A series of Bar jackets and coats constructed like men’s blazers with white stitching that looked almost frayed had a deconstructed character to them we don’t often see at his Dior. It suited him. But mainly, it was nice to see a Dior collection that was purely Jones, somewhat similar to his debut from a couple of years ago. A collection like this may not receive the hype of last season’s Travis Scott collaboration (the release of which has been indefinitely postponed due to controversy surrounding the rapper), but in its Dior-core it will serve to enlighten new audiences in what the house historically represents. “I think young people want to learn about things,” Jones said. “The thing about Dior is it still looks modern when you see pieces from the archive. That’s probably why it’s still here, and so big.” He took his bow with milliner Stephen Jones, who is celebrating 25 years at Dior, and reworked the founder’s beret for the heads of Jones’s models.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

That Girl. Fendi SS22

Kim Jones’s spring-summer 2022 collection for Fendi was a line-up of classically-flavored silhouettes and color progressions played against an irresistible decorative sample of archive Antonio López illustrations. The models glided out from backstage down a runway whose arches echoed the house’s Roman home, the Palazzo della Civiltà. The big reveal of this collection, the decoration, rotated around the vintage Fendi logo drafted by López during his period of collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld. Said Jones of López: “He was a big, big fashion influencer for a lot of people, but is not so talked about. He had this relationship with Karl and with Fendi, and he helped shape so many strong visions of women, because he loved them: that feels very authentic and topical.”The illustrations drawn from the López estate’s archive originated, Jones said, as the 1960s transitioned into the 1970s. Here his work was introduced via oversized brushstrokes, then zeroed-in upon via one particular drawing, a rouge-lipped profile of Jane Forth that was abstracted into the pattern that contoured four vivid intarsia and jacquard looks. Color became more impactfully calorific as further illustrations of wavy-haired and cherry-lipped rainbow-framed women were worked into kaftans, a fringed tapestry-woven Baguette, intarsia leather thigh-highs and silks. Plexiglass jewelry by DelfinaDelletrez was shaped in gold-edged transparent lily leaves, another López signature. Many looks remained illustration free, yet even without the figurative signposting, these outfits echoed the aesthetic of the period in which López was working. Just like Jones’ debut collection last March, this was… a proper-looking collection. Quite dangerously, Kim leads Fendi to that type of predictably classy, beige-y, luxury Italian brand category, which Lagerfeld avoided at all costs.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Here Comes The Light. Fendi AW21 Couture

Kim Jones‘ second haute couture collection for Fendi was captured in an emotive film, which saw the likes of Kate Moss, Christy Turlington, Malgosia Bela and Amber Valletta gaze enigmatically into the camera as they wafted around a Roman theater set in dresses evocative of the stone and statues of the Eternal City. It was shot by Luca Guadagnino and scored by Max Richter. In the age of social media when big, beautiful dresses go viral, the direction Jones is setting for Fendi epitomizes a popular understanding of haute couture as something the eye can easily identify: bold ballroom silhouettes, sumptuous surface decoration and (very) famous faces. “It’s being optimistic about being able to socialize properly. I thought it was a nice moment to say that,” he said. Couture clients, Jones pointed out, “go to Fendi for something extravagant.” Two seasons into his tenure, his couture expression is manifesting itself in decoration and fabrication above all. His glamorous evening dresses serve as canvases for this finery, like the mother-of-pearl embellishment and recycled fur mosaic work that graced this collection. Watching it unfold, it feels like a formative process, as if all that intarsia and all those embroideries have been locked inside him for so long, waiting for the day when they could burst out into bona fide couture. Comparing to his heavy, over-worked January show, this one radiates with lightness and elegance that isn’t forced. To me, it felt like the mesmerising ambience of Rome. The film was inspired by Pasolini’s neorealistic Roman cinema, every architectural era of the city visible on its mock horizon. The fabrics and textures were informed by the buildings and pavements of Rome, some employed in statuesque lines that underscored the theme. Jones’s evolving exercise in the decorative aspects of haute couture made for eye-catching effects like the allover petal work of Moss’s oversized dress, or the marbling of Valletta’s swathing gown. Most compelling were the silhouettes that really took form, like the hypnotizing construction of a mosaic bolero jacket that resculpted the body through the volume-specific grammar of haute couture, or the dress worn by Mica Argañaraz, which demonstrated a similar idea in flou. “We had a lot more time to work on this one. We’ve actually had a full season. So, it’s a lot more worked into, and I think people will see a lot of difference in it. The people here, when they see what we’ve been doing, they can’t believe it’s the second one I’ve done. They say it’s a lifetime’s worth of understanding,” Jones concluded.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Kim Meets Travis. Dior SS22

At Dior, Kim Jones has collaborated with some of the finest visual artists out there, from Peter Doig to Raymond Pettibon and Daniel Arsham. But somehow this season’s joint effort with a 29-year-old rapper from Houston made the most sense. Travis Scott is one of the most remarkable musicians in the world right now, a Gen Z idol who embodies the esoteric fashion attitude of social-media culture and who has a child with Kylie Jenner. He is the type of celebrity who sits front row at Jones’s shows. But today the hip-hop community is no longer being dictated to by fashion. They’ve shifted that paradigm, claimed their rightful influence on the industry, and got behind the wheel. Scott’s collaboration with Dior was a manifestation of that evolution: a meeting between a creator and his muse, who hadn’t quite decided who had been cast in which role. “From the stage to the music, it was never just about the clothes but about the experience,” Scott said during fittings in Jones’s Paris ateliers. “It’s how you see and hear it, how you see the music.” He was talking about the live show production—which spliced memories of Christian Dior’s childhood gardens with the cactus-heavy Texan landscape Scott grew up around—but he might as well have been painting a picture of his own fashion understanding. Gifted with an instinct for styling, Scott has a personal wardrobe as distinctive as his sound. “It’s about taste, isn’t it?” Jones told Scott. “Some people have it, some don’t. Luckily you do!” The internet will give you endless get-the-look guides on Scott and his designers of choice, from Jones to Virgil Abloh, Phoebe Philo, and the cult Japanese brands that underline said esoteric fashion culture. Going forward, style tips can all defer to this season’s Dior collection, which was a medley of those influences. Jones explained it was inspired by the artist’s own look as well as his various creative outputs. “We had some hard design sessions for a couple of months,” Scott said. “I would draw graphics and send them to him. We sat down with mad refs, breaking down where we felt like we wanted to take it.” The palette painted a picture of Houston, its pink skies, green cacti, and the browns of the earth that have become trademark colors in Scott’s wardrobe. The silhouette felt rooted in the rapper’s penchant for a slightly oversized top paired with a flared pant, skinny but not tight. Iterations on tracksuit bottoms were particularly strong, tailored to precision and studded with cowboy-like metal buttons down the side. In a nod to that same cultural heritage, Scott had interpreted John Galliano’s saddle bag for Dior as a double bag that felt more rodeo than ever. Another of the artist’s signatures: patterns that evoked the rattlesnakes and desert flowers of the Texan plains. He had cacti-fied the maison’s toile de Jouy, while the ghostly motifs that appeared on tops were his own. “They’re imaginary things that kind of pop up in my head, and I draw them by hand,” Scott said, pointing to the same motifs woven in knits. “These are knitted by hand, which is so fucking nuts. It’s crazy.
Talking about the trips he and Jones had taken to the Dior archives, Scott was clearly in heaven. “Me coming in and being able to have those in my hands…,” he paused, a smile on his face. Later, he effused about the wish-to-reality aspect of an atelier like Dior, which can literally make anything happen. “Making some of your imagination come to life, it’s kind of crazy.” His enthusiasm was visible in the collection, and that’s why it felt like such a shrewd match for Jones. Rather than applying an artist’s work to his own garments like he’s done in the past, this was the designer inviting his perhaps most influential Dior client to take an active part in the creation, from silhouette to motif and surface decoration. It was organic.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Proper Classics. Fendi AW21

Kim Jones‘ first collection for Fendi, which was a haute couture line-up starring the designer’s friends like Demi Moore, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, polarised the audience. Surprisingly, his ready-to-wear debut wasn’t such noteworthy event – no big names among the models, and instead of some sort of Insta-extravaganza, we’ve seen a very classic, proper Fendi collection. Wisely, Jones neither committed himself to reflecting every aspect of the Fendi story, nor contained himself to narrowly defined elements of it. Instead he allowed the collection to unfold for the watcher as the city unfolds for the visitor, a multitude that coalesces towards the impression of a whole. The looks were all in neutral shades, both to reflect the mineral colors of the city and the organic shades that have dominated in Fendi’s history. Spaghetti-fringed furs in contrasting herringbone, striped silk shirting, and the opening loose-sleeved suede bonded mink evoked the period of Fendi’s first great flowering under the stewardship of the founders’ five daughters Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla, and Alda. It was they who recruited Karl Lagerfeld in 1965, and his great influence was stamped most clearly in a soft tote whose F-framed handle evoked his famous ‘Fun Fur’ of that period. Significantly, many pieces were punctuated with the 1981 ‘Karligraphy’ monogram. The biggest innovation here was the way the topic of fur was handled. The grandest fur on show was a long-haired fox whose raw material had been upcycled from previous pieces. Jones said of upcycled fur “that it is probably more challenging to work with for the artisans, but they enjoy being challenged.” He also pointed to the abundance of by-product shearling and added that his approach in this regard is to balance two questions: “What does the customer want and what can we do ethically?” Maybe this collection wasn’t overly charismatic or loud, but I bet it will do well in the stores next autumn.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.