Dior Men Pre-Fall 2021: Chinese seed embroidery meets Kenny Scharf
Dior Men took its latest show to Beijing on Tuesday, virtually at least, with a collection hyper infused with imagery by American street artist Kenny Scharf, and lovingly made using ancient Chinese seed embroidery techniques.
Scharf riffed on multiple Chinese symbols, though the key to this latest Dior collection from the house’s menswear designer Kim Jones was incorporating all of the Los Angeles artist’s diverse creatures into menswear couture.
So the acid-dyed universe Scharf creates with spray cans became, thanks to a high-powered Paris atelier and artisans in China, stunning sequined fantasy coats and stupendous intarsia jackets – where the giant mouths, glowering eyes and fiendish smiles of the artist’s cartoon characters fought for supremacy.
“Almost everything I do, in some way, is fighting against the destruction of our beautiful planet,” Scharf explained in a video-interview shot inside his LA studio. That battle, alternatively humorous and horrific, provided the underlying tension in this collection.
While techniques used 2,000 years ago to make court vestments for Qing Dynasty emperors were used to develop rock-god blousons where Scharf’s turquoise radioactive sea creatures slugged it out with angry pink goblins.
Moreover the degradé tones ever present in his artworks can be seen in those of dramatic tuxedos or silk party shirts – all trumpeting the clashing colors of Scharf’s fantastic silkscreens prints.
The show video kicked off with the classic dance track What is Love by Deee Lite, though with fresh lyrics. “Happy to say Diioooor!” the singer emoted. Staged before a giant light screen background of volcanic marble, outer space celestial stars and techy Heraclitan fire, the youthful cast marched out smartly in wacky prints tops and smiling-naughty-goat print sweaters.
Mingled in where fresh examples of Jones sleek tailoring for Dior, from his cavalry twill oblique wrap-around jackets to some cross-over safari jackets with epaulettes – often finished with mega moiré bows at the back. Giant Scharf tongues even stick out and practically lick jacket midriffs. Perhaps not every guy will be tempted by the trouser length, at half mast well above the ankle, but the silhouette did look novel.
For evening next fall, Jones wants the Dior dude in frock coats made of scaled down versions of Scharf’s prints and woven on traditional Thai looms. Often the creatures smile with psychedelic reflective eyes. Chinese mythological creatures make appearances - cartoon dragoons, surly cats and monkeys with flower nipples.
Jones has previously taken Dior’s past two pre-fall menswear collections to Tokyo and Miami; but this year multiple brands have picked China for events, as it emerges far more rapidly from the pandemic.
“When we began planning to go to China, we didn’t know we would not be able to show there. Now, no one can go to China because of the lockdown. But I wanted to do something quite joyous. I’d thought at this stage lockdown might have finished. But it hasn’t, has it?” noted Jones.
The result was a jubilant, even elated, fashion statement, and a brilliant example of true haute couture for men, all with a Dior in China spin.
Many looks trimmed and finished with Chinese passementerie tassels, worn on models with seed embroidery spiky hairdos, ideal for a latter day Keith Flint on the Bund. Other models sporting Dior saddle man bags across the shoulders, done in zany Scharf prints.
And, of course, Monsieur’s favorite headgear – a Tamburin, or square beret – made with miniature pearls embroidered in China and dreamed up by milliner Stephen Jones using personal favorite Kenny prints.
“I am so thrilled with the way Kim, Dior interpreted and incorporated my art into the clothes. Everything I looked at, it was like, ‘Wow! Amazing!” concluded the bearded artist in LA.
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