An Exclusive Chat with Kim Jones about Dior Men’s Fall 2021 collection

Dior Men embarks on intergalactic journey through a special collaboration with contemporary artist Kenny Scharf

Kim Jones continues to inspire creative dialogues with pioneering personalities from the world of contemporary art for Dior Men’s collections. And for the maison’s Fall 2021 collection, the artistic director has chosen American artist Kenny Scharf, who is known for his inimitable graffiti and fantastical paintings of anthropomorphic and imagined creatures. Influenced by Scharf’s hypnotic work and poised between utopianism and cosmic travel, Kim Jones started a whole collection with luminous vitality. Several paintings from Scharf, such as “Viva Mare Viva Mar,” “When The Worlds Collide” and “Globo Mundo” have been given a new medium by Jones. These works now live through the collection, along with special technical treatments.

In this special interview, DA MAN chats with the renowned artistic director about the collaboration, the collection and more.

DAMAN: Hi, Mr. Jones, thank you for taking the time to talk with us. Let’s dive into the Dior Men Fall 21 collection. What are your main sources of inspiration?
Kim Jones: My main inspiration for the Fall 2021 men’s collection was the idea of the joie de vivre Christian Dior experienced when starting his house. We looked at the brightness, the energy and the sense of fun in Christian Dior’s work, which came following the darkness of the Second World War, and I was thinking that we would be out of COVID lockdown. So, that was really my starting point.

DA: And what are the main themes of for fall 2021?
KJ: The main themes come from different types of embroideries, different kinds of jacquards and really, a looser, lighter silhouette on the tailoring.

DA: You collaborated with Kenny Scharf for the Fall 21 collection. What made you choose him for this season and how did the collaboration happen?
KJ: I haven’t met Kenny in real life, I’ve only met him virtually for the moment. But obviously, we have friends in common; that’s how I got to know him. I’ve known his work for a long time and I’ve had books on exhibitions he’s done with Basquiat and Keith Haring, as well as books of his own work. So, I’ve known of him pretty much since I was a teenager. I like that he was one of the leading artists in New York in the ’80s, which is a period I find extremely fascinating and that I wish I’d been around to see because it was a real moment of creativity—not commerce—that was exciting in terms of music, with art, with fashion … everything was one thing, and I think that really shows in Kenny’s work.

For this fall collection, I wanted to work with an artist who evoked a sense of energy and fun, the same as when Christian Dior founded his house, and I thought that Kenny Scharf was the perfect artist to work with for that.

DA: How did you choose which of Scharf’s works to use in the Fall 21 collection?
KJ: Well, I looked at Kenny’s works and I just saw the pop of it, and I thought: Let’s do some brights! Let’s do some energy! Let’s create something that’s going to really stand out! And, that’s it. It’s this sort of intensity of his work and the clashing of colors that I thought was really interesting. I’m particularly in love with the Chinese zodiac he did for us because it’s a unique piece and it feels like you’re looking through 3D glasses or something.

With Kenny it was very much from a distance, because Kenny is in L.A. and we were working in London. It was a conversation: He was very free with us and let us use his work however we wanted, sharing and approving everything along the way.

DA: You then transformed the spray-painted illustrations then transformed into the collection, fused them with the famous Dior Oblique motif and also traditional Chinese embroidery techniques. Can you tell us more about the latter?
KJ: For this collection, I was inspired by the amazing artisanal craftsmanship in China because I wanted to work with the experts in China to create beautiful products for Dior.

China is a country I’ve always found fascinating. I haven’t seen as much of China as I’d like since I’m always there for a short time for work. I was very interested in the craftsmanship, the culture and the history of China for this collection. Originally, we meant to stage a physical show in Beijing. But due to the situation, we decided it was safer not to. We finished with the essence of what we originally started with and we worked with numerous leading artisans in China who excel in crafts that date back a thousand years.

DA: With the collaboration as the prominent element, how did you play with Dior codes and heritage in this collection?
KJ: The main Dior code we worked with is the Dior Oblique cut. We used a lot of tailoring, we softened up the shoulder on the jackets and coats for a more relaxed silhouette, as we’ve come out of a period of wearing more relaxed clothing, so I thought it was nice to bring that into the tailoring. We introduced brightness and fun through Kenny Scharf’s* artworks.

Originally, we planned to do a show in China, which unfortunately we couldn’t do due to the global pandemic, but we explored Chinese workwear silhouettes for inspiration and brought that into the tailoring too.

*Partnership done in collaboration with Artestar, a global licensing agency and creative consultancy representing high-profile artists, photographers, designers and creatives.

DA: Which pieces in particular would you say fully embody the spirit of this collection?
KJ: For me, a lot of the shirting, the overcoats, the tailoring and then the more lightweight outerwear really capture the essence of the collection. It’s lightness, it’s playfulness, it’s easiness of wear, essentially. It’s the ease and the tailoring and the elegance of Dior that I wanted to keep and uphold.

DA: In terms of accessories, what are some the biggest highlights of thus collection?
KJ: We used a variety of techniques moving between ancient and modern, so we have traditional tie jacquard using recycled synthetic yarns to create outerwear versions of tie fabrics. We also used brand new techniques mixing jacquard and screen printing and artificial intelligence-guided machines that are able to make complicated and rich textiles.

With the accessories we wanted to really work with “special objects” this season. So, we have the Chinese seed embroidery, bead embroideries and pop, acid colors. We also have our classic jacquard, re-imagined on Saddle bags or on the Soft Saddle bags.

DA: What would be a good example of Dior’s savoir faire here?
KJ: We worked with several artisans across China to create some very special pieces with, for example, “seed embroidery,” which is a very light but extremely complicated, centuries-old technique, on hats, belts, shirts, bags and shoes. We used a silk tie jacquard as an outerwear fabrication, and also on trousers, and then laser-cut velvet so it felt like corduroy.

DA: Lastly, how would you sum up Dior Men’s Fall 2021 collection?
KJ: This collection represents hope for a return to reality in the not-so distant future.

Opening photo by Brett Lloyd for Dior
Photos by Harry Ealman, Ken Ngan, Sophie Carre, Alfredo Piola, Adrien Dirand
Artwork by Kenny Scharf. Licensed by Artestar, New York