Editor's Pick, Style

Show Highlights: Dior Men’s Winter 2022/2023 show

Show Highlights: Dior Men’s Winter 2022/2023 show

For its 75th anniversary, Kim Jones refines rebellion with rebellion in the Dior Men Winter 2022 collection that sees the return of the New Look for men.

Kim Jones lives on the threshold of the old and new. As of last year’s Fall 2022 collection presentation, the language of Dior Men at the hands of Jones seemed engineered to persuade a new generation that the old tropes of the past looks and feels better than anything we can make up today. Where time bounds all matter with inevitability, the artistic director takes on it whole, and unafraid — thus making the ‘exhausted’ akin to something you would long for. In a world where designers are easily consumed by opportunistic ambitions to destabilise history, here comes a good old fashioned British-trained designer restoring what is left of the empire. On his latest presentation for Winter 2022, the 75th anniversary of the late Monsieur Dior’s debut collection, time becomes an instrument played by an orchestra — where Jones serves as its conductor.

Paris, February 12, 1947. The morning dew sets on the Pont Alexandre III Bridge on the Seine. The sky, as if painted by Alfred Sisley, drew heavenly beams across its many railed arches. Everything appeared perfect and intentional. Except, it was actually the Place de la Concorde on a Parisian afternoon in the 21st century. Not one look has appeared, and Winter 2022 was already unlike anything we have ever seen. Like waiting for the stars to align, the show started with a first look comprised of a black sweater and tailored pants paired with a Stephen Jones beret and hard to miss embellished shoes. Nothing new and impactful, until we finally got to look at the back (or the lack thereof). A backless sweater makes it clear that Winter 2022 is neither meant to shock, nor invigorate. What we were about to witness was Dior at its simplest.

“I wanted to look at the archive, at the purity of the beginnings of the House, at its original impulse” elaborates Jones in the show notes. This particular genesis sparked the creation of the “New Look” of 1947 — a tailored jacket cinched in the waist so closely to the body it accentuates any figure with generous curves. For Dior Men Winter 2022, fashion’s original golden ratio took centre-stage. Of the 49 looks presented on Friday, 26 featured renderings of this tailoring technique. Versions of it were pleated on the outer shells of tailored suits, as seen on look 2 through 5. On looks 13, 25 and 27, they were rendered as draped knots that hangs as a train. The drape was narrated even on the most contrived items in the collection, such as a moto-style leather jacket.

Jones also acknowledges the necessity for a proper mission statement. When examined as a whole, the collection is truthfully dull. Instead of opting for a collection that explodes in excitement, tired fabrications of vintage, murky textiles formed its foundations. Assuming that the collection was engineered for the same audience that sold-out previous drops, this collection would trickily stall to capture their imagination. But that was not exactly the point. You see, Winter 2022 was meant to work the same way Dior collections once did. Less shock value, and more attention to detail, to form and to function. Away from the noise of front-page collaborations, the new collection filters the beauty of couture in a diorama of technical possibilities; a daring aim that eventually makes a lot of sense.

Still, the collection suggests a level of emotional breadth even as it reduces. High jewellery designed by Yoon Ahn sparkles beneath its stillness. On several looks, they remain informed, almost blending into the ready-to-wear pieces and unnoticeable if never fully examined. Even with its buzziest collaboration this season with Birkenstock, the collection never fails to fulfil its original intention of subtlety from originality. Retro seems fit to describe the collection, but ultimately disproven by new bags such as the Corelle tote which joins the newly-improved Saddle, displayed with a bouquet of flowers.

Ambient collections are hard to come by these days. With Winter 2022, nearly every one of its reference points may have once been intended as subversion. But how do you refine rebellion with rebellion without making a scene? It comes in the form of control, a lot of it, something that Jones is particularly good at. Even as womenswear shapes predominate this mens collection, the deterrence to blur gender ideals is not forced. With its arousing sense of sentimentality and tastefulness, it is hard to dismiss the collection as one of the most outstanding efforts this season.

The House of Dior is a ship steered by many captains; all ambitious to bring something new to the table yet plagued with preserving the intentions of Monsieur Dior. Like how no one ever has the same handwriting, no one came as close as Jones has. It is as if while other artistic directors were troubled by his ghost, his enigma, Jones appears to be the living reincarnation of Monsieur Dior himself. Just like a mattress that is starting to stiffen, you might think it is timely for a new one. But with Winter 2022, Jones suggests an occasional flip to the other side — because you should never throw away something that already works.