2018 changing of the guard at the top of the Paris menswear establishment is now complete: Kim Jones has shown at Christian Dior, three days after his friend and mentee Virgil Abloh swept all before him on his rainbow-hued runway at Louis Vuitton.

At a time when leading luxury brands are courting a streetwear customer, Kim Jones is moving in the opposite direction. For his debut collection for Dior Homme, what was unveiled yesterday at the barracks of the Republican Guard cavalry regiment in Paris, Jones has mined the Dior archives for inspiration related to the women’s couture heritage of the house, founded by Christian Dior in 1947.

More I analyze every detail about this show the more I feel the craziest obsession inside me. This collection somehow just gets under your skin and is hard to forget. Kim Jones knows the balance of luxury and street in way no other designer can compare. His work is just genius.

“The only things I’ve looked at is women’s wear,” the British designer said during a preview at the Dior Homme atelier on Rue de Marignan, a stone’s throw from the company’s headquarters on Avenue Montaigne.

His version of a blank slate is the delicate pink that is a signature of the house. The shade appeared on some of the designer’s earliest creations, such as the Fête gown from 1948, and will feature in the show – though Jones played down the notion that it signals a celebration of male fragility.

“It’s the Dior pink, and I think it’s a nice thing. You go to L.A. and you see how kids dress in the street – they wear pink all the time. So it’s not that thing, ‘Oh it’s pink, I won’t wear it,’ anymore,” he explained.

“I looked at all the areas where there was room for expansion,” said Jones, adding that he will also beef up the accessories assortment with new styles including a men’s version of the Saddle bag. “The shoes were doing really well, but we could do a lot more,” he explained.

Jones has also brought on Yoon Ahn, cofounder of the streetwear label Ambush, as the brand’s jewelry designer.

“I can work with different people in different ways and I see things in different ways. When I had my own label, I worked for McQueen, I worked for Hugo Boss, I worked for Iceberg, I did projects with Comme des Garçons. I did all these different things and you just put a different head on,” he said.

“I don’t even like the word streetwear, and I don’t believe in it, because everyone wears clothes on the street. It’s like, how can you say that’s street and that’s not street, when it’s all on the same street? I think it’s a silly phrase. You know, it’s different price points. For me, that’s the thing that’s really important, but when you merge it, and create something that’s really desirable, people get really excited, and I think that’s the thing that’s interesting,” he added.

So this was the essence of what went on at his debut Dior show (the press notes were headed DIOR, not Dior Homme). Jones threw in delightful morsels for the millennials – tiny John Galliano for Dior-era saddlebags, CD logo stud earrings by Yoon, utility clips designer by Matthew Williams of Alyx. And there were suits, the jackets wrapped and buttoned a little off-center, with a cut named “Oblique” – a reference to a 1955 Dior couture collection.

In our time, the role of heavy-hitters in the creative director class is to orchestrate shows as immersive experiences. As with Alessandro Michele at Gucci, and Hedi Slimane – about to debut at Celine next season – as with the resort trips taken by Chanel, by Nicolas Ghesquière on the LV women’s side, and Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior, there must be a thousand directions to look in, people to recognize, references for fashion geeks to clock, and sets to Instagram. Jones has that, in spades.

 

There was a monumental floral cartoon teddybear effigy of Christian Dior by KAWS. There was an over-excited front row of celebrities, designers, real-life friends, and presiding corporate dignitaries. There were Kim Jones’ instagram posts showing Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, posing in the studio. And then there was his theory, imparted in the Dior Homme showroom, about it being time for couture values to be imported into menswear. “I’d call it romantic, rather than feminine,” he said, thus joining his point of view to this week’s conversations on the topic with designers as chalk-and-cheese as John Galliano at Maison Margiela and Raf Simons.

 

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