PARIS — For its triumphant return to the Paris runway in June, Dior had a special guest up its sleeve. The French fashion house’s first physical runway show in 18 months saw Kim Jones team up with rapper Travis Scott on his spring 2022 men’s collection.
The scene at the show was predictably chaotic, as photographers jostled for a backstage shot of the two men, while outside, fans went wild, knocking over a security barrier when Scott emerged from the venue. He rewarded them by jumping into the crowd in an impromptu street mosh pit.
Online reaction to the collaboration was equally euphoric. The show garnered 1.54 million views on YouTube and 10,240 responses, according to data and analytics firm ListenFirst. By comparison, the Dior men’s spring 2021 collection featuring a collaboration with artist Amoako Boafo, which was unveiled online in July 2020 at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, garnered just 234,523 views and 5,071 reactions, it said.
The collaboration between Jones and Scott — and the influence it generated — earned the two men the WWD Honor for Men’s Wear Designers of the Year.
It was the latest in Scott’s winning streak of partnerships with companies as diverse as Nike, Dover Street Market, Playstation, Epic Games and Byredo, prompting Forbes magazine to dub him “corporate America’s brand whisperer.” His collaboration with McDonald’s last year resulted in meat shortages and helped to drive up the fast-food giant’s shares.
A Grammy-nominated artist, songwriter, producer, businessman and designer, the “Astroworld” rapper has also been lauded for his innovative music marketing strategies, such as bundling concert tickets, merchandise and a new album, and staging a virtual concert within Epic’s wildly successful Fortnite game.
With his on-again, off-again partner Kylie Jenner, Scott forms one of showbiz’s most high-profile couples. The duo are expecting their second child.
Since 2017, he has released close to 20 new products each month on average. “Even for the hottest brands and products, adding a Travis Scott co-sign makes a major difference, with the power to send hype into hyperdrive” online resale platform StockX said in a report, noting that his products command a hefty premium on the secondhand market.
“The most impressive aspect of Travis Scott’s resale dominance — even more remarkable than his sky-high sneaker prices — is the breadth and diversity of his catalogue. From face masks to chicken nugget pillows to Fortnite accessories, if it has Travis Scott’s name on it, it’s moving numbers on StockX,” it added.
The Dior show marked the first time the brand has designed a full collection with a musician, and represented a departure for Jones after a series of collaborations with leading artists including Kaws, Daniel Arsham and Peter Doig, among others.
Scott has been close to the house for a while, modeling the Air Dior capsule line that it developed last year with Jordan Brand. “He’s a cultural phenomenon, and culture is something that the young generation want to associate with, especially when they’ve been away from everything,” Jones told WWD.
“I see things that Travis does, that other people don’t do, that interest me. He’s a leader, not a follower, and I think that’s always really important. You cross different sections of society. The fact that he can do Dior and McDonald’s is a testament to him — no one else could,” the designer added.
Scott said his high-low approach comes naturally.
“High-end, and even couture, has always even been in my metaverse of things I like. And I don’t think there’s even a difference going from McDonald’s to Dior. It’s just the things that I like in my natural state,” said the singer, rocking a cactus-shaped pendant studded with more than 2,200 diamonds, designed by Victoire de Castellane, Dior’s creative director of fine jewelry.
The show took place on a spectacular set that summed up the spirit of the collaboration: a desert-like backdrop covered in oversize blooms inspired by founder Christian Dior’s garden, and cacti symbolizing the musician’s home state of Texas and his creative collective Cactus Jack.
The clothes likewise melded the house’s tailoring — and particularly its signature Oblique jacket — with psychedelic influences, including a color palette ranging from sun-bleached pastels to acid green. It also featured a new take on the Dior Oblique logo that spelled out the word “Jack.”
“We tried all different types of silhouettes, taking it somewhere that I usually don’t even go with my own clothing,” said Scott, referring to suits with a narrow jacket and flared pants. “We produce more street style things, so to come into a house that does more couture-level, and kind of mesh, it was kind of cool.”
Accessories included a double Saddle bag with a stirrup handle, and skate-inspired B713 sneakers, which Dior is no doubt hoping will match the success of its Air Jordan trainers released last year.
Scott has a particularly strong track record on footwear. In 2020, sneakers he codesigned sold on average for 370 percent more than their launch price on StockX, with a median resale price of more than $850, the platform said last year. Even when he wears shoes that don’t bear his name, like Nike SB Dunks, their resale value rises by up to 50 percent.
Dior augmented the buzz around the Cactus Jack collection by drafting in one of its most popular brand ambassadors, Sehun from the boy group Exo, to promote the show.
“The Cactus Jack collaboration between Travis Scott and Kim Jones was an unquestionable success for Dior, on YouTube outperforming previous men’s shows by Dior during the pandemic, while influencer posts providing an even bigger lift in engagement. However, Travis Scott wasn’t necessarily the rapper most responsible for the collection connecting with the social media audience,” noted Jonathan Cohen, content and communications director at ListenFirst.
“The most popular Dior post about the Cactus Jack collection featured K-pop star Sehun as a model, while Sehun’s Instagram post sharing his Cactus Jack look, generated 47 percent more engagement than Travis Scott’s own Instagram post about the collection. For fashion brands, being able to evaluate the social performance of your own brand and influencer content side-by-side is important as it often yields unexpected conclusions,” he added.
What remains to be seen is whether Dior’s collaboration with Scott was a one-off, or if it marks a new chapter in the brand’s strategy. Fresh off his collaboration with Kim Kardashian West’s Skims brand, in his parallel role as artistic director of women’s collections at Fendi, Jones appears nowhere close to jumping off the celebrity train.