The past of the future, now becoming then. The notion of the relic – the idea of constant evolution, investigation and creation of history – sits behind every haute couture maison. These houses are a living, breathing connection to a storied past, to another epoch – a testament to the power and currency of memory. For summer 2020, Kim Jones, the artistic director of Dior men’s collections, explores this notion, collaborating with multidisciplinary american artist daniel arsham, whose work examines the archaeology of the present. The result is a testament to Dior’s legacy – one we uphold, one that is continually being created.
Sculpture and architecture were integral to Christian Dior’s work: his haute couture was moulded and structured – dramatic silhouettes and crafted clothes were soft sculptures in themselves. For this summer 2020 collection, the shapes are supple, fluid, gently structured and featherweight, but combined with working methodologies and characteristics that evoke sculptural origins.
Leather garments have details that are bonded, then sliced like a frieze; pieces are printed from the inside to capture features of cut during the printing process and throughout; and the tone-on-tone Dior oblique monogram and shading express an idea of sculptural elements, like bas-relief. A colour palette of sun-bleached neutrals and intense colour hues a monumental landscape.
A superstitious importance given to totems, the notion of luck and the magical properties ascribed to physical objects were part of Christian Dior’s ideological make-up. Elements of Dior – both hallmarks of the house and incidental pieces that express its physical actuality – here become emblematic relics. Items drawn from monsieur Dior’s studio – his clock, his telephone – have been cast by daniel arsham, reminiscent of the artist’s future relics series.
In its first-ever collaboration with the luxury luggage brand rimowa, Dior presents a unique capsule collection, including a backpack, a champagne case, a hand case, a clutch and a cabin suitcase, characterised by the German house’s iconic aluminium grooves. Forged with craftsmanship and expertise, this special-edition Dior and rimowa collection features the Dior oblique motif and uses an innovative combination of anodising processes, whereby vibrant pigments are inscribed directly into the product’s aluminium skin, lending the design a high complexity of reflective, lasting colours that celebrate the spirit of the material as the building block of the collection.
As ever, the collection is founded on the history of Dior, its excellence of cut, tailoring and craft. But it also reinterprets modern history, a new heritage. The Dior newspaper print, introduced twenty years ago as part of the spring-summer 2000 haute-couture collection, is redrafted, once again in collaboration with daniel arsham. The collection also telescopes to now, underscoring styles Kim Jones has introduced to the house of Dior: a selection of neo-classics.
The tailleur oblique of Kim Jones’s debut is reiterated, its details adapted to outerwear; the reinvention of the Dior saddle bag continues, its curves adapted as storm-flaps on coats; and draped volant sashes introduced for winter 2019-2020 evolve. Today, they have a shaded touch – dragging through the sand of the show décor, it appears as if they are already marked by the passage of a different measure of time. Others outline the lapels of tailored jackets, like cast shadows.
The notion of the hand is the essence of couture. Translating it to menswear continues: parisian ateliers create clouds of pleated georgette, enveloping the figure like pigment in water while, expressing the universality of craft, toile de jouy patterns are hand-painted by kimono craftsmen from Kyoto, Japan. Both methods recall another era.
In this collection, the hand of the house is joined by those of the artist daniel arsham and Kim Kones, interacting in a dynamic and constant creative exchange. Pieces have been worked by both the Dior men’s atelier and arsham, who also examined the Dior archives to project into an imagined future, creating them as precious relics of a distant eon. New pieces have been prematurely aged, eroded, crumbled. Yoon Ahn’s jewellery designs have been taken, recast, eroded and returned by arsham to be recreated by the Dior studio.
Transparent shoes resemble casts in themselves, with socks visible inside. Graphics from Dior’s history become tablets in plaster, broken and altered by arsham, reworked in silicone as appliqué badges applied across accessories. Continuing in a new tradition, established under Kim Jones, of artists reinterpreting the iconography of the Dior men’s saddle bag, arsham casts its form as an artefact: the resulting bags will be 3-d printed, in limited edition.
The Dior logo is transposed, too: it becomes a façade, letters raised, with cracks and fissures worked into the surface of the cloth, worn by models walking through a desert scene filled with other monumental monoliths to Dior.
An interplay between past, present and future, the value of the past, looking ahead from the present – this collection explores anticipation and the elasticity of time, simultaneously looking back and forward. History is not immutable: it is dynamic, changing and alive. This collection is a tribute to Dior, the one that’s familiar and the one still taking form.