TOKYO — The future of men’s fashion is here.
That was the feeling at Kim Jones’ first pre-fall show for Dior, which was held in a towering circular space inside a steel and glass building on an island of reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay. At the center of the venue was Japanese contemporary artist Hajime Sorayama’s nearly 40-foot-tall metallic sculpture of a sexy female robot figure.
Many of the looks Jones sent around the runway gleamed as brightly as the robot did, with metallic Tyvek jackets, iridescent jacquard suits, polished metal saddle bags, and steel baseball caps by Stephen Jones all vying for attention. A down puffer jacket in metallic blue seemed to trick the eyes, looking different from every angle.
“It’s actually a black garment that gets put into a vacuum and the metal is then sucked through it and sticks to it. So each thing comes out slightly different,” Jones said. “So you get these imperfections, which look beautiful and give more of a sort of personality to the work, and I think that applies nicely to a couture house.”
But as futuristic as some of the pieces were, Jones said his inspiration came mainly from the history of the house. He chose three codes from the Dior archives — houndstooth, the panthère print and the color pink — and reimagined them for today.
“I just thought [Mr. Dior’s designs] were the best place to start. There’s so much there to see,” said Jones, who also reinterpreted some of the Dior codes in his very first show for the house last June. “And, you know, it is a women’s archive, but what happened in the 1950s is relevant to men in the 2010s.”
Animal prints had an unexpected depth in shades of deep blue and black or gray and white on T-shirts, bomber jackets and coats, while the color pink appeared as cherry blossoms that mingled with Sorayama’s robots on button-up shirts and wide, knee-length shorts.
The collection was heavily based on tailoring, but a new, softer kind, styled to suit today’s street-inspired trends. A turtleneck sweater with robot-like detailing and a logo designed by Sorayama was worn with sleek gray trousers and metallic silver boots with rubberized toes. Houndstooth suits had unstructured jackets and pants that were tucked into high-top sneakers. Some were worn with lace-trimmed T-shirts or satin shirts. Even the more traditional suits were modernized with two tones of gray, a single-button, cross-over closure, or a wide stripe of a contrasting color running vertically down both pieces.
“My ideals for Dior are the elegance of Dior, the couture aspect of Dior. And then looking at those and then bringing them forward. I think it’s really important to respect the house,” Jones said. “Obviously we make things like jersey and things which people can wear in a different way to the [more formal] elements, but the core thing for me is the elegance of Dior, and the street aspect of things isn’t the same as at Vuitton [where Jones previously headed men’s wear design]. I’m looking at tailoring as the foundation of what Dior is. But, you know, you can wear a nice tailored coat over an outfit like I’m wearing now [jeans and a sweatshirt], and it’s a different way of wearing stuff. But it’s modern. It’s just how men dress now, and I think that’s the important thing. I think if you ask a man if you want to wear a tailored jacket compared to a sweatshirt now, especially in Asia, they’d choose a sweatshirt. So we have to be realistic about what’s going on in the world.”
Jones also took inspiration from his host country, much like Monsieur Dior was fascinated by Japan from an early age and throughout his life. While the cherry blossom pieces felt a bit cliché for a show staged in Japan, subtler influences such as jackets that, when closed, resembled the way one side of a kimono crosses over the other under the neck, and coats with details similar to those of karate uniforms struck an ideal balance between traditional influences and modern clothing.
“I think culture is really important in fashion now, because a lot of people don’t look at that. And I don’t mean culture as in different things, but just something people can relate to,” Jones said. “I mean, you have a lot of discussions on things like cultural appropriation, but no one talks about cultural appreciation. And that’s a really important thing. You’re celebrating something, and it’s not like you’re taking a negative stance on it. You know, we have references to Japanese design, we have some kimono styles in the collection, but they were designed by Mr. Dior in the 1950s. And it’s like we’ve reinterpreted them, and I think it’s respecting where you’re showing, and I don’t think it’s a negative. I think if you love somewhere, celebrate it.”
While Jones celebrated Japan with his collection, Tokyo also celebrated him. The front row was packed with both local and international celebrities, artists and designers, including Kate Moss, David Beckham, Bella Hadid, Takashi Murakami, A$AP Rocky, Diplo, Hiroshi Fujiwara, and of course, Sorayama himself.