Fashion

Dior Men Invokes the Superlative Arts of Couture for Winter 2021

High ornamentation and painterly colors pervade the elegant set.
IMAGE Dior/ Brett Lloyd
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While you’ve been led to believe that less is best and emptying your head is the only path to peace, the glory of maximalism cannot be ignored. The dazzle of all manner of adornment, the electrifying thrill of the exceptionally well-made, and the hyped-up energy of the unafraid and unrestrained just feel very, very good. 

Dior wants to take you there. Cranking up the difficulty to 100, the French luxury house centers its fall/winter 2021 men’s set on haute couture. Fashion’s highest form is reserved for the fairer sex (think gowns on steroids), but artistic director Kim Jones has proven he is more than capable of translating the feminine into what men want, dreaming up, among other hits, a suit jacket with an off-center closure as a mirror of monsieur Dior’s oblique line, as well as several reimaginings of the Saddle, the most wanted women’s handbag of the 2000s, as your everyday carry.

Creating an Insane Gold Coat with Crystals and Metallic Yarn

Photo by Dior/ JACKIE O'DONOVAN.
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It continues in the new collection, where, to greet the viewers of the digital show (night in Manila, afternoon in Paris), a glittering coat of gold set the tone. When the fresh-faced model stalked the catwalk, the garment twinkled on screen as if tiny fireworks were exploding on its surface. 

Photo by Dior/ JACKIE O'DONOVAN.

A high-resolution monitor could not reveal the work Dior’s petite mains has achieved here. Show notes reveal later how the effect was created through the very elaborate and very abundant hand embroidery of faceted crystals and metallic yarn on black cashmere. The template, of course, is the Rosella, “a haute couture dress designed by Marc Bohan in the 1960s” and another example of Jones’ knack for unearthing inspiration from the label’s greatest hits and then reworking it for men. As the model of the well-adorned coat puts it in a behind-the-scenes video: “This jacket is insane... it’s a work of art.”

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Translating Painterly Landscapes Into Clothes

That’s one thing that can’t be surmounted (yet) by digital shows. Fantastic details are lost in tiny pixels so what stands out, at least, initially, is the immediate, in this case, a soft painterly palette.

For the collection, Jones partners with the artist Peter Doig, whose influence can be seen in the purples, blues, and Dior gray plus a punchy section of yellows and blood oranges. All together the colors, which are inspired by the painter’s watercolor landscapes, create a soothing effect that belies the high degree of ornamentation and craftsmanship of the clothes.

Photo by Dior/ JACKIE NICKERSON.

Photo by Dior/ JACKIE NICKERSON.
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To turn art into clothes, Jones and Doig chose, for example, fuzzy mohair, which approximates the runny feeling of watercolor (see: sorbet-colored pullover). The duo also created a new print by extrapolating the leaves on the artist’s paintings into an inky all-over camouflage, as well as installed the constellation of stars in Doig’s “Milky Way” as tiny pinpoints of light in a few overcoats.

Photo by Dior/ JACKIE O'DONOVAN.

Photo by Dior/ JACKIE O'DONOVAN.
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Wearing Hand-Painted Lions and Bowler Hats 

The collaboration doesn’t end in the translation of watercolors as the Scottish-born, Trinidad-based painter also created motifs for the collection. Doig, who features lions in his landscapes, came upon a photo of Christian Dior dressed in a lion costume made by Pierre Cardin for a masquerade ball in 1949. And so: “I made a drawing of it, first of all, just for fun,” he says in a video. “And then it became the actual invitation to the show.” Naturally, the majestic animal popped up in select pieces such as a throw, a shirt, and a bowler hat.  

Photo by Dior/ JACKIE NICKERSON.

We really have to talk about those hats. Even in a set that celebrates decoration, Dior and Jones proceed ever so elegantly, but that’s not to say that the collection is without things that catch the eye. Crowning the heads of many looks are felt bowlers, which were hand-painted by Doig and done in collaboration with famous milliner Stephen Jones.

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Photo by Dior/ JACKIE O'DONOVAN.

Photo by Dior/ JACKIE O'DONOVAN.

Jones, who is a longtime friend of the artist, pleated the edges of the hats to soften them but insisted that Doig keep (not clean) the raw quality of his paintwork. The effect is a little kooky but not out of place, making you consider wearing the style in real life.

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Elsewhere, slung on the shoulder of a young man, there is a miniature gold Saddle bag. We're keeping an eye on this one. We don’t know what we’ll put in the incandescent creation but, as with many pieces in Dior's set, we feel the need to have it.

Solaire Resort & Casino, dior.com

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Clifford Olanday
Editor in Chief, Esquire Philippines
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