“I’ve labored with artists, and I’ve labored with musicians,” Kim Jones, the creative director of Dior Males, tells me, as he gestures broadly at two giant whiteboards, on which pictures of every of the 49 appears from his new assortment are pasted. “So I believed it might be good to work with literature this season.”
We’re standing in a lightless Holborn basement, it’s two days earlier than the Dior Males's AW/22 present—the primary Jones may have mounted in his London hometown since his two-and-a-half-year stint as artistic director of Alfred Dunhill, a decade in the past—and the designer has taken day trip of his arduous schedule of mannequin fittings to speak GQ by way of the inspiration behind the garments.
“I checked out who was doing groundbreaking issues at across the similar time as Monsieur Dior was doing groundbreaking issues, within the ’50s,” he says in his clipped English, which has a contact of the Queen’s about it, “and the Beat Technology was an apparent selection.”
Jones is carrying a close-cut sweatshirt in his trademark black. He’s sustaining himself on a packet of salt-and-vinegar Popchips, and his hair, which is flecked with the gilded stays of a current bleach job, is cropped near his head. His pores and skin is evident, and he appears effectively—surprisingly effectively, in truth, for a person about to point out one of many 25 collections he is designed this yr.
Along with his position at Dior, Jones can also be creative director of womenswear at Fendi, and it’s a duo of massive gigs that retains him very busy certainly. So busy, in truth, that one imagines the freewheeling likes of Kerouac and Burroughs, et al., may flip of their graves on the sight of his schedule.
“Jack Kerouac wrote On the Street in 1957,” Jones says. (Christian Dior died in the identical yr, at age 52, and on the peak of his powers.) "So I contacted the Kerouac property and labored with them to carry a few of his artworks and writing into the gathering. I wished to retell the story of On the Street for a contemporary age. The Beats nonetheless encourage the youthful era, so I believed it was fascinating to take that highway journey by way of garments, by way of Dior.”
The ensuing assortment reads as a lot an homage to Kerouac’s work as a treasure map across the highways and byways of Jones’s magpie-esque mind. Grungy Fair Isle knit sweaters that, at first look, appear worn on the hems however are, in truth, suffering from sequins (a design cue lifted instantly from Monsieur Dior’s archive) come paired with cropped trousers in washed denim; in the meantime, suede- and crocodile-clad mountain climbing boots are teamed with nylon shorts, collegiate coats, and bookish windowpane examine blazers, impressed by the midcentury Dior collections of Yves Saint Laurent and Marc Bohan.
The combo-and-match aesthetic—half insouciant Gallic stylish, half rootin’-tootin’ Americana (to date, so Kerouac, who was born to French-Canadian dad and mom and raised in New York)—is current within the smarter segments of the gathering too. Sequin-peppered costume shirts are worn with spaghetti ties and chunky postman footwear in burgundy and burnished silver, whereas chunky-knit lengthy johns rub hems with roomy shirts that, Jones tells me, are designed to resemble “the mud jackets of books.”
Certainly, there’s a sure softness to Jones’s AW/22 providing, a brand new heat that feels at odds with the sharper edges present in his earlier collections for Dior. Has his interrogation of the work of the Beats, who have been famed as a lot for his or her fluid literary fashion as for his or her unfettered method to dwelling (and dressing), inspired Jones to loosen his collar? “The thought of personalities is vital,” he explains. “There’s a Neal Cassady within the assortment, there’s a Charles Bukowski in there, there’s an Allen Ginsberg, …all of the totally different Beats.”
Voluminous smocks, completed with expanded takes on the imagery discovered on first editions of On the Street, and a leather-based jacket hand-painted with the quilt artwork from an early copy of Visions of Cody apart, there are additionally loads of the easy-access trinkets and small leather-based items that Jones, a born merchandiser, excels at producing season after season. And so they fall neatly into the road-trippin' theme too. There are folksy, mesh-encased cross-bodies and messengers; there are sporty, cycle-core sun shades crafted totally from recycled ocean plastic; there are heavy-duty mountain climbing sandals; and there are sequined beanies designed to put on like swim caps.
After I ask Jones to establish the items he’s most happy with, the designer is fast to level out a midnight blue pea coat, which packs away into its personal martingale on the again. He additionally reveals me a shaved shearling jacket heat-pleated with a sublime diamond sample, and a toothsome lambskin overcoat in a muted shade of cortado.
Jones, whose London house (due west from his short-term Holborn studio house) is as a lot a residence as a modern-day wunderkammer—a dwelling, respiration museum full to bursting with the manifold cultural curios that he has collected in his 48 years—usually turns to the issues he loves as beginning factors for his collections. (His first couture outing at Fendi was impressed by his private compendium of unique Virginia Woolf volumes, whereas Dior SS/21 was primarily based on a portray by the Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo, which hangs in his hallway.) It ought to come as little shock, then, that for this newest providing, Jones seemed to Kerouac’s most well-known work, of which he owns numerous first editions.
The reference feels much more vital when one considers how a lot time Jones himself spends on the highway. He is the flesh-and-bone embodiment of high-key peripatetic dwelling, and one look at his Instagram account—plastered to popping with pictures from store openings in Tokyo, design conferences in Rome, product launches in New York, and now, preshow prep in London—tells you every part you have to know.
Mounted a number of days after our assembly within the cavernous surrounds of Kensington’s Olympia Exhibition Centre, the present itself was each bit the big-budget, high-fashion manufacturing we’ve come to count on. The celebrities littering his entrance row included everybody from Jonathan Bailey and Micheal Ward to Sam Smith and Naomi Campbell; Grace Jones carried out a barnstorming set on the shut of the present; and the house itself completely mirrored the intricately conceived assortment in its clever (to not point out costly) execution.
Most notably, the runway was shaped from an enormous 120-meter scroll printed with Kerouac’s phrases, designed to reflect the prolonged manuscript the author produced for On the Street. Kerouac famously stitched collectively numerous sheets of paper, which he fed instantly into his typewriter, in order that his artistic circulation want by no means be interrupted.
Again within the Holborn basement, I’m about to be ushered out by one in every of Jones’s cashmere-clad minders, however earlier than I'm, I wish to know extra in regards to the small, intricately ornate pin on the collar of his sweatshirt. Is it an homage to a trinket worn by Kerouac, I'm wondering? Will it's going into the present? “No, it’s my OBE,” says Jones, laughing; he was awarded the honour in 2020 for his providers to trend.
It strikes me that Jones’s private look is the right embodiment of the designer’s mastery in marrying excessive and low—costly sweatshirt assembly OBE pin and Popchip crumbs in completely happy concord—which, I recommend, can also be the important thing to the success of this new assortment. “AW/22 is about enjoying round and mixing it up.” Jones agrees: “Such as you’re dwelling out of a suitcase and selecting one thing new to put on every day.” He pauses, lifting his hand and smiling barely, the gilded sheen of his pin glinting beneath the strip lights of his makeshift studio. “As if you’re on the highway.”
This story initially ran on British GQ, with the title “Kim Jones beats a highway to London for Dior Males’s AW/22.”