KIM JONES WOWS WITH A UTILITARIAN COLLECTION THAT CONNECTS DIOR’S GRANVILLE HOME WITH CHARLESTON, THE ICONIC RESIDENCE OF ARTIST DUNCAN GRANT
Three-quarters of a century has passed since Christian Dior founded his titanic fashion house. Current Dior Men’s Artistic Director Kim Jones is reflecting on the life of the illustrious icon and also the life of one of Dior’s most potent inspirations, Bloomsbury group artist Duncan Grant. At the same time, Jones fuses his own English sensibilities with the French designer’s codes. From the magnificent setpiece that hosted the show to the contemporary utilitarian fashions and early-20th-century tailoring, there isn’t a part of the Men’s Summer 2022/2023 collection that isn’t in conversation with the past. After all, what are legacies for if not reflection?
Models strutted between recreations of Dior’s birthplace and Grant’s country estate, passing by a grassy floral-adorned path. Mirroring the pops of color that peeped through the earthy green set, the collection’s garments took on light shades like Dior gray, pastel blue, and beige. There were cashmere and cotton duster coats, layered shorts, knit tanks and sweaters bearing Grant’s art in needlepoint. Jones’ silhouettes are light, but not delicate. It’s a refreshing change from the tendency to equate gear and utilitarian fashion with a kind of militarized, bulky aesthetic. Accessories further the sense of outdoorsy practicality of the garments—it’s easy to picture the Mystery Ranch rucksacks, with their detachable covers and hoods, worn on a trek in the muddy countryside.
Images courtesy of Dior/© Adrien Dirand
A little historical context helps the show’s elaborate set make sense: Dior was born in Granville, a town in Normandy where his legendary garden flourished. Grant, meanwhile, resided at the famed Charleston estate in Sussex, where he and fellow artist Vanessa Bell entertained and had affairs with other revolutionary artists, writers, and intellectuals of the time—Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry, and Lytton Strachey being a few of their most prominent visitors. Like Dior, Grant cultivated a garden of his own at the lush country estate. Using idyllic scenography, Jones was able to turn the runway into an imagined bridge between Dior’s garden and Grant’s; between Granville and Charleston, Normandy and Sussex.
Adding to the charms of the saccharine summer scene was the soundtrack, a remix of “Spring 1” by composer Max Richter. The track comes from Richter’s album The New Four Seasons, a reimagining of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons with classical and electronic music components—and another instance of art as conversation between a creative and his predecessor.
While Jones honors Dior’s legacy with extraordinary attention to detail, he doesn’t hesitate to implement changes. When not paying homage to the ‘30s with tailored suiting, Jones veers towards unexpected pockets and layers, asymmetrical constructions, and exposed skin. There are also modern techniques in practice. Dior couldn’t have fathomed the technology required to 3D-print the collection’s gardening hats, inspired by Grant’s favorite straw gardening hat and the trellis-work of a pergola in Dior’s garden. Jones takes us back in time with his latest collection, but he brings the innovation and vision of the 21st century along with him. In the resulting marriage of past and present, Dior and Grant, France and England, something beautiful blooms.
See every look from the Dior Men’s Summer 2022/2023 show below: