Fashion as an artform must establish a dialogue between the designer, the wearer, and those who observe. Dior is no stranger to this dialogue, and Kim Jones, the creative director for Menswear collections has made it a recent habit to involve more and more artists in the creative process for each line. Previous collaborations include famous hatmaker Stephen Jones and Ghanian artist Amoako Boafo, with whom Kim Jones created a dialogue between the Dior savoir-faire and the artist’s creative ideals.
For the Winter 2021-2022 season, Jones has now paired up with Peter Doig, Scottish visual artist residing in Trinidad & Tobago. The resulting line is an exaltation of ceremonial attires, sprinkled with visual elements taken directly from Doig’s paintings and rendered in the most exquisite techniques the Dior ateliers can manage.
The overall colour palette is muted but stylish, with a variety of soft, muted blues, navy, dusky mauve, Dior grey, with a sprinkle of colour alongside brilliant yellow, blood-orange and green. These are all taken directly from the preferred colours of Doig’s works, and each of them shines in its own way with the chosen material.
The collection takes not only inspirations but patterns and characters directly from the hands of Doig, with his starry skies being a prominent element over several pieces. The stars shine in jacquard, on overcoats, wallets, a signature Dior bag, and a turtleneck sweater, evoking movement, and free-flowing elegance. Raw brush strokes and paint splatters in bright orange and yellow serve as patterns on sweaters, while characters from Doig’s paintings are displayed centred on woollen sweaters in orange, green, and grey. A pattern of paint globs and spatters behaves as a camouflage print on head-to-toe ensembles, two of which are topped by a long overcoat, one in orange with handcrafted details on the hems, and one in beige.
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The main theme throughout the collection is an utter respect and admiration for the creative and artistic process, which included not only the finished patterns but also the painting work in itself. Hats by Stephen Jones make a comeback for this season, this time intervened directly by Doig’s hands, with paint applied directly to them. As Doig himself points out, the natural stains and spatters that occurred during the main intervention, which saw paint being spilled all over the hat borders, were kept, as Kim Jones saw them as part of the finished work and a testament to the process. A hat of special notoriety includes a picture of a lion, drawn by Doig and inspired by a photograph of monsieur Christian Dior, dressed in a lion costume for a ball in 1949.
Some prints for certain items, like a long, light grey overcoat, were chosen by Doig from his sketching processes, rather than finished paintings. This way, different haute couture techniques could be employed in replicating them, while also serving as another way of connecting with the artistic process behind the whole line.
Ceremonial outfits served as inspiration for some of the pieces, and blazons and ribbons akin to those used in military rituals and royal events can be spotted every now and then on certain items such as shirts, coats, and hats.
Some stand out pieces in his collection include a wool sweater that echoes brushstrokes in green, red, and yellow, a green blanket embroidered with the aforementioned Dior lion, a beautiful ombré overcoat that goes from deep red to almost bright orange, with a leather hem, and an overcoat that glimmers with embroidered golden stars. Details were cared for on every look, with accessories being modelled after a lion sculpted by Doig, and buttons, pendants and belts referencing military medals and the conic Dior monogram. A collection of Stephen Jones hats and knitted hats in a variety of colours, including bright pink, complete each outfit for an integral Dior avant-garde look.
Kim Jones and the Maison Dior keep on furthering the dialogue between artists and fashion, bringing a more sensitive approach to an industry that’s used to fast changes. The inclusion of Peter Doig and his unaltered designs in this collection are a testament of the interaction between art, designer, clothes and wearer, and create a new space for questioning the limits of art and fabric. The exploration of the creative process through the Menswear Winter 2021-2022 collection is ultimately an exploration of true elegance and sophistication in high fashion.