Kim Jones looked back to his youth in London for inspiration for the latest Dior menswear collection, a bold and courageous homage to the late great Judy Blame. And the result was a stellar show that hit all the right notes in terms of attitude, tailoring, silhouette and style.
Showing remarkable assurance, Jones distilled key elements of Blame, the most famed of all UK punk stylists, into practically every look. Winning an enormous wave of applause, cheering and feet thumping as he took his bow inside a giant Dior dove gray tent at Place de la Concorde. Before a front row that included Robert Pattinson, Cara Delevingne, Victoria, David and Brooklyn Beckham, and his boss, the 100-billion-euro entrepreneur Bernard Arnault.
Blame was known for incorporating the detritus of the urban jungle into his fashion imagery, and this show played imaginatively with all his ideas. Like his signature ruched-up waist and drooping lapels, which Kim worked perfectly into super-tony cashmere coats. Or Blame’s penchant for wacky medallions, in his case bottle tops, can openers, pearly buttons or safety pins, but for Dior – great spiky medals from a member of Kim Jones’ cohort, jewelry star Yoon Ahn, as well as coins featuring Judy as a monarch or Blame’s fetish pearls.
However, though punk-inspired, the clothes had a definite majesty. Divinely hung tuxedos with contrasting collars, surgically cut leather blousons that fitted like a glove or the magnificent opening night silk moiré evening coat finished with a huge fabric rose.
All the Dior team were on inspired form, notably milliner Stephen Jones, who composed a marvelous series of Andy Capp flat-caps and berets with zip edges, Judy coins, Pearly King buttons and even the famous arrow shape, which Judy used as a Mohican hairstyle.
Blame’s collaboration at Jones’ old house, Louis Vuitton, led to a worn denim bag with LV trinkets in silver and gold which is now a collectors item. This Friday at Dior,there was instead a Toile de Judy dancing gal print, as well as a newspaper collage made of Monsieur’s original press releases and elements of Judy’s sketchbooks done in partnership with the Judy Blame Foundation.
Jones also developed heat-print shirts and opera gloves in the Oblique pattern, seen with gentlemanly cashmere coats, and finished with fabric-covered buttons, just like the Bar Jacket. A very Christian Blame moment.
After-hours club met outrageously expensive in a splendid blazer of brushed vicuña, taken from the bellies of vicuña that live on the shores of Lake Titicaca, quite literally. Or in a mink trench coat, remarkably shaved to have a trompe-l’oeil effect.
Jones was encouraged to embark on such a personal quest by Diorʼs CEO Pietro Beccari, who knew of Jones’ friendship with Blame.
“When Judy passed, Pietro texted me his condolences as my friend had died. So, then, later he was like, ‘why don’t you do something, whenever everyone is able to deal with it?’ And I thought we are now,” explained the designer.
Jones first met Blame “when I was very young in The Fridge in Brixton,” back when he was 18. “He was quite terrifying! But I plucked up the courage to go and talk to him, and voilà!”
The Dior creator climaxed with an opera coat, rain-splattered with three types of rhinestones and sequins to better diffuse the light, a look that referenced a Marc Bohan idea from 1969. The ultimate in menswear couture with 964 hours of hand embroidery.
Jones is now so self-assured about his position that he even showed editors a 1991 image of Judy working with John Galliano, the former women’s designer of Dior, whose career went into a tailspin after a drunken incident in 2011.
“This is Judy styling Galliano, with one of his newspaper prints looks, with a note from Galliano saying how much he loved it. Coz, you know, they were really good friends. So, that’s a link to this house as well,” noted Jones.
Post show, there was a palpable sense of elation among the studio team, scores of makeup artists and models that one only gets after a great show. For this was unquestionably a massive triumph.
In a word, when it comes to international men’s fashion, Kim Jones is the daddy now. Judy would have been very proud.
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