‘My interest in ancient Egypt is about the stars and the sky,’ said Kim Jones of the setting for his Pre-Fall 2023 menswear collection for Dior yesterday evening, which was backdropped by the Giza pyramids – among the most well-known vistas in the world. ‘It’s that fascination with the ancient world and the parallels with what we look at today; what we inherited from them and what we are still learning from the past.’
It makes an apt metaphor for the task of a creative director at a historic house such as Dior, who must draw from its history while continuing to forge forward into new ground. The show, said Jones, was the culmination of his year-long celebration of 75 years of Christian Dior’s defining New Look silhouette – its nipped waist Bar jacket and full skirt a riposte to the austerity of post-war society – which saw the British designer travel across eras and place in recent collections, from Paris’ 1900-built Pont Alexandre III to Christian Dior’s childhood home in Granville, Normandy (both were recreated as the backdrops to Jones’ A/W 2022 and S/S 2023 shows respectively).
Dior Pre-Fall 2023 by Kim Jones in Egypt
Here, in the shadow of the Grand Pyramid, Jones set to once again trace links between himself and Christian Dior, using the symbolic star – a longtime motif of the house – as its guiding force. ‘In both the collection and the show there is an idea of “guided by the stars” and what that can entail in many ways,’ explained Jones prior to the show. So the story goes, Christian Dior – having just been offered a job as artistic director at Marcel Boussac’s fashion house Philippe et Gaston and debating his future – spotted a cast-iron star on Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré which had come loose from the pavement. It became a talisman for the couturier; not long later, he rejected the job offer and Dior the house was born.
‘My destiny came to meet me,’ he would say.
Shown on a snaking LED-lit runway, the collection itself traced a movement from daytime to nightfall in a desert-inspired palette, ‘with hints of a fiery sunset filtering in between’. Silhouettes referenced Christian Dior’s couturier’s touch – ‘metamorphosing the feminine to the masculine in tailoring’, with Jones placing particular focus on pattern cutting – as did the collection's various flourishes, from couture finishings on technical outerwear to the evocation of archival embroideries. Stars appeared in engineered prints, taken from photographs by Nasa telescopes of those in the furthest reaches of the universe. Sheer trailing scarfs, Dune-like helmets and velcro neoprene boots evoked a futuristic desert wanderer.
Jones noted that the various pieces worked as a ‘living history’ of the house, ‘always in flux’. Transparencies of jacquard allowed a glimpse of the underpinnings it takes to create Dior’s tailoring and outwear, while demi-kilts (worn over trousers or leggings) were drawn from the bias-cut skirt of a 1950s Dior dress titled ‘Bonne Fortune’. Accessories saw perhaps the most vivid melding of past and future, the house cannage reinvigorated with innovative techniques – from scuba panelling and injection mouldings to metal hardware with bold anodised finishes.
Presented amid the vast founding symbols of civilisation – a site which is in the process of being redeveloped in a €17,000,000 project – the collection was a contemplation of Jones’ own place on the continuum of Dior, past, present and future. An orchestral rendition of Max Richter’s The New Four Seasons made a fitting finale to the cinematic spectacle.
‘It’s about how the past shapes the future or an idea of the future from the past,’ said Jones.
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Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*. Having previously held roles at 10, 10 Men and AnOther magazines, he joined the team in 2022. His work has a particular focus on the moments where fashion and style intersect with other creative disciplines – among them art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and profiling the industry’s leading figures and brands.
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