Dior artistic director Kim Jones uses past to fuel future

Scarlett Conlon
Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

When a fashion designer’s last catwalk show was – by their own admission – their favourite thing they’ve ever done, what do they do six months later when showtime comes around again? If you’re Dior Men’s artistic director Kim Jones, you use the past to fuel the future.

Collaborating with the American contemporary artist Daniel Arsham, Jones took classic Christian Dior items from the archive and projected them into the mid-21st century. He said backstage before the show that it stemmed from him “thinking about the future and imagining a Dior exhibition 50 years from now – it made me think, what have I done that would be in there?”

Arsham – an artist known for depicting the relationship between antiquity and futurism – was chosen by Jones, famed for taking Dior back into a couture direction since his appointment last year, because “he looks at the present and the future”.

A creation presented at the show. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Their codes combined made for a couture-focused collection with its roots in architecture. Toile de Jouy shirts were hand-painted by kimono craftsmen in Japan (where Jones held his second show for the house). Embellishment was finely pleated silk-chiffon, worked to appear like a coral and appliquéd on to shirts. Longline leather coats were sculptural and bonded. Transparent outerwear was mirrored in see-through footwear so to see the Dior-motifed socks underneath, evoking the hallmark of couture where what lies beneath is as important as what the eye can see.

Familiar motifs returned in the newspaper print made famous by John Galliano for the 2000 womenswear couture show which was reworded by Arsham for a new audience.

Kim Jones showed his style. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

Jones is widely known for his collaborative nature, and for this he once again assembled his merry band. In addition to Arsham, Yoon Ambush designed the jewellery, which featured floral brooches, long pendants featuring clocks and telephones (pieces from Dior’s personal collection) and a keyring of Jones’ Insta-famous dog Cookie. “Christian Dior had a history with his dog Bobby so I thought it would be nice.”

Bags were a collaboration with fellow LVMH-owned luggage brand Rimowa and comprised baby cases, for credit cards and keys, as well as large picnic vessels. Also in the bag department came more best-selling Saddle bag shapes. Jones incorporated the former womenswear piece into his first collection and they’ve had waiting lists around the world ever since.

The show marked the first anniversary of Jones’ tenure at the house and this is the fourth collection he has delivered in 12 months.

LVMH has made a heavy play for a dominant share of the luxury menswear market in the last year and a half. Along with Jones at Dior, it has appointed some of the most influential designers focusing on menswear – including Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton and Clare Waight Keller at Givenchy.

For 2018, it recorded revenue of €46.8 billion, an increase of 10% over the previous year, which it in part attributed to the impact of Jones’ arrival.

Today, Dior CEO, Pietro Beccari – who worked with Jones in his last job at Louis Vuitton and hired him for this one – said backstage that he was “glad [Jones] was a part of my squad”.

“He’s a cultural DJ – he’s mixing all his experiences he has done in his life and travels and gives back something which is very now,” he said.