Paris Couture Week doesn’t kick off until Monday, but Kim Jones got a jumpstart on the exclusive showcase with a display of his first full line of haute couture for men at Dior.
Exquisitely embellished pieces, made to order for a handful of clients, have always been sprinkled into his collections at the French fashion house, but Jones wanted to give them a dedicated section in a show inspired by Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who collected kaftans, kimonos and precious shawls that he enjoyed wearing in private.
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“His clothes were really extravagant,” Jones said in a preview.
To the dramatic strains of the “Dance of the Knights” from Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” which Nureyev performed with his legendary dance partner Margot Fonteyn, models in artfully draped pants and intricately embroidered coats formed a circle in the center section of the runway, which rose in a dramatic finale, spinning to exhibit all the looks.
Fonteyn was a Dior client, but it turns out Jones has a personal connection with the theme. His uncle Colin Jones, a former dancer with The Royal Ballet, went on to become a photographer, and his images of Nureyev off-duty and in rehearsals informed the collection.
“I was lucky to have these things in my life as a child and they stuck with me,” Jones said.
He purposely kept the 40 ready-to-wear looks “clean and minimal,” focusing on the categories that are the brand’s bread-and-butter: tailoring, with iterations of his signature Oblique suit; outerwear, with roomy wool melton and leather jackets, and accessories, including mary-jane sneakers and a quilted satin rucksack in ballet slipper pink.
Other elements were direct references to the more low-key elements in Nureyev’s wardrobe: ribbed knits, a robe coat with an extra-wide belt, twisted turbans and bulging zipped wool jumpsuits and shorts — although those probably should have been left in the history books.
If the section felt a little sedate for a runway display, it’s because Jones was just getting warmed up. The climax came with the 20 couture looks, inspired by items from the catalogue of the Nureyev auction at Christie’s in 1995, as well as the Dior archives.
Call it the fashion equivalent of Nureyev’s virtuoso pirouettes.
A sweeping silver kimono woven through with jewel-like blocks of color was based on one of the dancer’s own and took 10 people three months to complete. Meanwhile, a top and pants with a matching stole, sparkling like a night sky, were inspired by the Debussy dress made for Fonteyn in 1950.
There was even a diamond choker, worn with a belted double denim jacket and pants. Another highlight was a gray cape embroidered with a silver pattern inspired by Dior’s trademark toile de Jouy. (Nureyev would have twirled for days.)
With price tags running up to 200,000 euros, the pieces were set to be presented to VIP clients in appointments at the venue the day after the show. “They love to buy things that no one else has got, so I thought that was a really nice way to do that,” said Jones, saying that he’s also thinking about his own contribution to the Dior archives.
At a time of growing synergies between fashion and entertainment, Jones did well to keep the focus on the clothes. Although the presentation was directed by Baillie Walsh, with composer Max Richter revisiting the score, he didn’t want dancers on the runway. “The theatric is in the set,” he said.
Movement director Les Child helped the models navigate the darkened venue, but unfortunately, guests exiting the show did not benefit from stage directions. The resulting pileup was a rather ungraceful ending to a performance that most certainly merits an encore.
Launch Gallery: Dior Men's Fall 2024
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