There are certainly like-minded souls running through Jones’s myriad personal collections, which include a trove of vintage London club clothes from 1971 to 1989, including 40 ensembles of Bowery’s, iconic early pieces by Vivienne Westwood, and some that the punk dancer and choreographer Michael Clark commissioned from Bowery to wear in his performances. (“The attention to detail! ” he says of Bowery’s ability to turn dross into gold. “I mean, it’s like a couturier. ”) Jones also owns some 6,000 vinyl records, among them many spun by the legendary New York DJ Larry Levan at the club Paradise Garage; Amazonian headdresses; a 1929 rug designed by Francis Bacon; Andy Warhol’s Polaroids of Cabbage Patch Kids; and a self-portrait by Frank Sinatra that once hung in Diana Vreeland’s bedroom.
Jones began his tenure at Dior by delving into the idiosyncrasies and life of Christian Dior himself—from the codes and palette of the house to Dior’s love for his dog Bobby—the name Dior gave to every single dog he had. (Jones himself has four: two English pinschers, a Shiba Inu, and his new Pomeranian, Cookie—“which I know sounds so gay, but he’s really cute. ”) His discovery that Dior began his career as a gallerist who promoted cutting-edge artists of the day, such as Salvador Dalí and Max Ernst, led him to launch a series of collaborations with the contemporary artists he figured Dior himself “might be looking at today,” he says.
His fall 2019 collaboration with the American punk artist Raymond Pettibon was about elegance with a touch of subversion: Models ferried past guests on a 250-foot-long conveyer belt, articulating Jones’s refined vision of masculinity—which included couture flourishes like sweaters featuring Pettibon’s reworking of an archival Dior leopard print, hand-beaded shirts based on a Pettibon drawing that required 1,500 hours of work each, and mink combat vests paired with black opera-length biker gloves that Jones describes as “a little bit perverse.
Real men couldn’t buy them. ” A huge fan of John Galliano, Jones wanted to translate the feminine couture ideas of the Dior atelier—the drapery, the colors, the sensitivity and drama—into men’s wear. “That world had never been explored by any of the men’s-wear designers,” observes Stephen Jones, the renowned British milliner, who worked closely with Galliano at Dior and now collaborates with Kim, acting as a kind of historical adviser. “People like Jean Paul Gaultier had done skirts for men, but that was very much a female trope as opposed to the femininity of a design for men.
West and his then creative director, Virgil Abloh, liked to hang out at Jones’s Maida Vale home in London, poring over his Japanese fashion magazines and talking about design. “They were doing merchandise for Kanye, but they hadn’t put a collection together before,” Jones says. “It’s funny because everything Kanye talked about then he’s doing now, like building a community space.
In the living room, where the walls are painted a pale Dior gray, an antique piano sits on a well-worn carpet, surrounded by displays of African masks and paintings by Bell and Grant next to the floor-to-ceiling French windows. “There’s no end to his cabinets of curiosities,” says his friend Flora Starkey, a celebrated fashion florist who’s known Jones since both were 18. “He has a lot of objects, but he displays everything in a precise way.
Here, it’s Bloomsbury meets Blade Runner: On the shelves are scribbled notes from close friends Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, Japanese toys, and illustrations by the cult Tokyo artist Hajime Sorayama, who collaborated with Jones on a sci-fi inspired Dior Men’s pre-fall collection.
Not for him the cult of personality. “People want to connect with a designer now,” he says, dismissing those who insist on mystique in 2019. “They’ll be extinct soon. It’s not mystique. It’s arrogance. ” His friend Tremaine Emory, a cofounder of the creative collective No Vacancy Inn, calls Jones “the quintessential culture kid, well before people were screaming ‘I’m about the culture. ’ He’s also funny as fuck and a great host.
At Jones’s debut in June 2018, the artist KAWS reworked his iconic BFF sculpture into a monumental floral effigy of a tuxedo-clad Christian Dior and Bobby. “I’d never created something at that scale or speed before,” KAWS says. “It was great that Kim wanted to make my work front and center of his first project with Dior. It was very generous. ” Sorayama’s towering, futuristic cyborg was the centerpiece of Jones’s second collection, a laser extravaganza staged in Tokyo.
Before he was appointed artistic director of the newly retitled Dior Men, formerly Dior Homme, Jones led men’s wear at Louis Vuitton for seven years, pioneering the fusion of high and low and formal and sport that transformed the landscape of men’s fashion.
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