While Kim Jones is artistic director of Dior Men, the figurehead of the house’s men’s division, he never plays solo. His collections for Dior, since his debut on June 23, 2018, have been marked by a spirit of collaboration. Instead of presenting one, singular vision, he invites other people, people he admires, into his world: from KAWS (S/S19), to Hajime Sorayama (Pre-Fall 2019), Raymond Pettibon (A/W19), Daniel Arsham (S/S20), Shawn Stussy (Pre-Fall 2020), and the Trust Judy Blame foundation (A/W20). Jones is generous with his spotlight, sharing it with creative figures such as these, and blending their visual languages with that of his own and of M. Dior.
His latest collection for Dior Men is a continuation of this approach; the result of a collaboration with the artist Amoako Boafo. In lieu of a traditional runway show, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the designer chose to present his S/S21 collection via a filmic portrait of this painter, revealed online this afternoon. Split into two ‘acts’, the first explores the artist’s life and work, with commentary from Jones, while the second focuses on the collection itself – showcased here via an exclusive set of images taken by Jackie Nickerson.
“I really, really, really love [Boafo’s] work and I’ve wanted to work with an African artist for a long time because I grew up in Africa, and African art has always been something that’s important to me,” says Jones, who spent his childhood across Botswana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Ghana. “We started with the idea of ivy, which was a very famous Dior dress, and when we were in Ghana we saw a beautiful new work of his which had a guy in an ivy shirt and that was the starting point of this idea of taking the textures and the prints and the patterns and the colours of his work and really turning that into the portraits coming to life.”
Born in Accra, Ghana and based in Vienna, Austria, Boafo’s work primarily focuses on portraiture, exploring not only his own identity but perceptions of Blackness – specifically Black masculinity – and casting a contemporary lens on African lifestyles. Jones first met Boafo at the Rubell Museum in Miami, an encounter the house describes as “artistic love at first sight”.
The second part of the film is directed by Nickerson who, like Jones, has a relationship with Africa – though born in Boston, Massachusetts, she now divides her time between Ireland and South Africa. (Her photography itself explores Africa; her first body of work, Farm, was shot in rural locations all over southern Africa, while her latest, Terrain, looks at labour, the land and the people who work upon it.) Her segment of the film focuses on the collection, revealing the ways in which Boafo’s artworks have been transposed onto garments – the colour palette borrows from Boafo’s own, featuring fluorescent yellow, blue, coral and green, while the prints and patterns draw on his paint strokes. Dior, specifically Jones’ vision for Dior, is equally visible: from the Dior oblique embroidery – a mainstay in Jones’ collections for the house – to the silhoutte, which simultaneously speaks of haute couture and a streamlined, streetwear-led influence.
“The styling of the collection is really looking at the paintings and seeing the characters he painted and what he was painting in reality and then bringing it back to life in a different way,” Jones continues. “Originally the idea was for a show, which now isn’t possible and I completely appreciate why, so we looked at the idea of focusing on his life and his subjects and his portraits and creating something that feels very Dior, but a portrait of an artist who I greatly admire.”
Watch the film below: