Kim Jones celebrates Jack Kerouac for Dior A/W 2022 men’s show in London

Jack Kerouac’s On the Road inspired the Dior A/W 2022 men’s show in London, with a runway comprising a vast scroll of typed paper

When Jack Kerouac penned his Beat Generation-defining novel On the Road – a quasi-autobiographical novel depicting the travels of narrator Sal Paradise and friend Dean Moriarty as they odd-job, drink, romance, bus and train around America and Mexico – he lifted jotted ideas from notebooks from the late 1940s, and typed his work onto a continuous reel of taped-together telepaper, so constructed to prevent a fracture in the creative flow.

Dior’s Kim Jones is a well-known bibliophile, and his extensive collection of books pays particular attention to the output of the Bloomsbury Group and the rebellious, lyrical, jazz-inspired, hedonistic and spontaneous creativity of the Beat Generation. For the Dior A/W 2022 men’s show in London – the first time Jones has shown in the capital since 2003 – the men’s artistic director paid tribute to Kerouac’s cannon with a runway show that incorporated an exhibition, ‘Nowhere To Go But Everywhere’, of Jones’ Beat literary memorabilia, including books, letters and manuscripts. The display also made allusion to the one-time occupation of the maison’s founder Christian Dior, who was a gallery director in the late 1920s. ‘I think it’s important to tell the whole story of Monsieur Dior’s life,’ Jones told us in August 2021.

Dior A/W 2022: the Beat Generation for today

Typed page of a novel on a typewritter

(Image credit: TBC)

For the show, presented in an expansive and shadowy warehouse space at Kensington Olympia, Jones nodded to the 120ft scroll on which Kerouac typed On the Road, at 100 words a minute. A 6m-wide manuscript roll unfurled along the runway to a length of 70m, swathed in Kerouac’s text, which was reproduced with its original crossings-out and annotations. As a catwalk, it became a hybrid symbol of freedom, a scroll, but also an open path, walked by Dior’s models. 

Dior’s associations with Beat culture date back to 1960, when then young creative director Yves Saint Laurent, who was appointed to helm the house after the sudden death of its founder, created the Beat A/W Haute Couture collection, a largely monochromatic offering featuring crocodile leather jackets, which shocked the maison’s conservative clients. Jones’ modern take on the style of the Beat Generation alluded to clothing seen on Kerouac book covers, silhouettes for modern-day road tripping, like colourful Fair Isle jumpers, check shirts paired with slim ties, American football vests, hiking boots, beanie hats and reflective sunglasses. 

Kerouac and his fellow Beat Generation writers, such as Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, were a symbol of countercultural freedom and unbridled creativity – an approach which captivates Jones. The image of On the Road’s protagonists making their way around San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Denver and Mexico City, hitchhiking and travelling via bus, liberated in their movement, also has particular resonance today.

Catwalk covered in large typed paper

(Image credit: TBC)

Large scroll of typed paper

(Image credit: TBC)
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