Innovation is a requirement in this day and age, much more given the limitations that 2020 signified for most businesses. In an industry like fashion, which relies on massive events to prosper, this need for reinventing the practices is especially notorious. Hence came the world-wide laptop premiere for the Dior Spring-Summer 2021 Menswear collection.
Taking great inspiration from his own cultural roots and early childhood, Kim Jones, the creative director for Dior’s Men’s collections, opted to portray distinctive art in each of this season’s looks. Enamoured by Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo’s work, Jones takes African tradition and his own upbringing in Ethiopia and EastAfrica and gives them a visually impactful form.
The collection echoes Boafo’s paintings, taking them from his studio and into the luxury fashion market. This great projection speaks volumes of Jones’ and Boafo’s ideas on cultural diversity and representation. The painter captures friends and family in his portraits, people who have a certain vibe and who create spaces for others to exist. He comes into contact with his art by profusely using his own fingers to smear globs of colour across the canvas.
“Fashion inspires my work. I tend to look at characters who have that sense of style.”
Each painting is a personal extension of Amoako Boafo’s arms, the line between art and artist erased by this relationship. In obliterating this limit Boafo also lets his individual beliefs and identity sip into the portrait. Jones has taken this essence and further explored it in his collection, with the patterns and brush strokes in each painting coming to life on the runway.
“The interesting part for me, working with a fashion house, is how they were able to transfer my fingerpainting technique onto clothes.”
Jones’ staple at Dior since his debut in 2018 has been artistic prowess and homages to artists of different and varied backgrounds. With this collection, Jones manages to take Boafo’s essence and masterfully breathe life into it. The 31 looks that comprise the season take textures and patterns from the artist’s finger paintings and create a magical experience.
A couple of long overcoats, coats and shorts in ashen grey and white tones balance the saturated colours of the most visually impactful pieces. Vibrant aqua blue, turquoise, salmon pink and brown dot the whole collection with waistbands and accessories. The most prominent colour is a neon yellow that shines through and through. This yellow is abundantly used in a jacket stricken by dark lines, in the lining of a taupé coat, and a full-body tracksuit. With a tight fit and aerodynamic silhouette, the collection is inspired by sportswear without losing sight of the luxury inherent to a high fashion House like Dior.
A tatting undershirt composed of the Dior monogram in beige is one of the most stand-out pieces, creating a beautiful complement for any outfit in the collection. Another highlight in the line are the curious v-necked sweaters with an actual v-neck cut from an ivy-printed fabric on top, available on both rich brown and light beige, short and long-sleeved. This same ivy print was the motor for Jones to take on the project, and is present in several pieces, understandably so as the ivy leaf was once an icon of Dior. Now the pattern fully covers a button-up shirt and the same idea is applied to flower and leaves prints in vibrant yellow, pink, and maroon.
The most notable articles have to be those showcasing Boafo’s unaltered art. Two sweaters place a hand-painted face right in the chest of the wearer, a deep glance string at the observer, the embroidered thread perfectly echoing the strokes on canvas. Up next to these two is an additional knitted sweater in vibrant pink and green stripes, a remembrance of the patterns common in African art and Boafo’s paintings.
Accessories including handbags, shoes and socks continue with the line’s visual identity, having the long socks repeat the same patterns and prints as those on the rest of the outfit. Prime leather Dior shoes, boots and strap shoes come together with each outfit for a fully-developed look, ranging from beige to black, some of them patterned with the Dior monogram. The vibrant yellow permeates on handbags, satchels, hats and shoes, as well.
In addition to showcasing African art on an international stage, this collection is altruistic in its roots. Amoako Boafo did not ask for any royalty, but in change requested the profits were donated towards creating a foundation to help artists in Accra. This line will help build an artist-run gallery and studio to support upcoming Ghanaian artists, as both Jones and Boafo believe that transformative power comes from cultural education.
A love letter to his childhood in Africa, and an artistic dialogue between two art forms, Kim Jones’ collection for Dior Spring-Summer 2021 Menswear line is an outstanding display of camaraderie and empowerment for Black artists and creative youths the world over. Unusual, unique and deeply personal, each article in the line is an art piece in itself and is sure to please those seeking to dress differently and dress with a purpose.