Fashion

Dior Men Continues to Subvert the Suit and Change the Way We Dress

Soft sash suits, organza bombers, baby Rimowas—all the things you’ll want from Dior Men’s summer 2020 collection.
IMAGE DIOR
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The lazy curves of Aube are highly Instagrammable. The events space, tucked away from the center of Bangkok, has been precisely sculpted so that shadow and light are in constant play, creating pockets of contrast everywhere you turn.

On this bright morning, Vietnamese super influencer Chau Bui (two million followers) has made her way to its roof—or what looks like a roof. How? We don’t know, but one of the superpowers of a super influencer is finding a way.

Later in the day, the fruits of her labor go live on her feed: a wide shot of Aube’s milk-white facade against the cloudless blue sky with Bui doing the coolest thing ever. She is down on one knee with her head bent to the side so that her coffee-colored hair flutters in the wind like a silk flag.

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Bui is one of the pretty little things in this congregation of pretty things (social media stars, style observers, well-dressed wranglers) who have been set loose in the photogenic playground for the regional presentation of French fashion house Dior.

Photo by CLIFFORD OLANDAY.

The setting is perfect. On one side is a breath of blush, a pink wall in the alabaster structure, and behind this wall is coincidentally more pink care of a rack of clothes from the men’s summer 2020 collection. Chou, dressed like the chicest tomboy ever in a zip-up jacket paired with big, baggy trousers (all current season Dior of course), appears and takes several snaps of the rack.

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Click, click, click.

Photo by CLIFFORD OLANDAY.

We sneak a peek at her screen (sorry!) and, as expected, it is an expertly composed image: plenty of negative space on top and only the corner of the corner rack positioned at the bottom left corner of the frame. We borrow this idea but it doesn’t turn out as good as her shot.

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This particular spot is a magnet for photos, what with the bright color splashed on the wall, as well as a generous jacket with a saddle-shaped shoulder flap, a slinky pullover, a trench coat, and a head wrap contraption. If you haven’t received the memo yet, it is now okay to express yourself in clothes that have the flourish of fluidity, in an outfit punctuated with an analog of your wife’s accessories, in threads that just a few years ago would put you on the is-he-okay list, in head-to-toe pink.

Photo by CLIFFORD OLANDAY.
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Artistic director Kim Jones continues to evolve the idea of what well-dressed men should wear. When before it was all about the suit forever and ever and ever amen, now there are more forms of dress that you can explore.

And for Jones, one of these styles is still the suit but with a double-breasted jacket that has a built-in sash, which snakes around the torso before emerging on the crook of your right arm. You’ll have to stay in a cool hands-in-pocket pose to wrangle the extra-long sash (fashion is pain), but there’s a more manageable asymmetric lapel execution with the fabric terminating just above the knees. It’s also removable.

Photo by DIOR.
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We zero in on the suit because the eternal uniform of men is set in its ways, allowing only incremental adjustments (lapel size, button stance, to pleat or not to pleat) to disrupt its form. When it moves more than an inch, you know something’s up.

In his spring 2019 debut collection, Jones deployed a suit jacket fastened a bit to the side, making it appear as if it was hugging the body. For fall 2019, he expanded the conversation with more softness in the form of the sash. And now, for summer 2020, the ribbony detail continues in ivory, cobalt, and pink. It’s an amendment that adds freshness to the suit, but what’s even more amazing is how the band is not a gimmick. It’s believable. It wouldn’t be such a stretch to wear a suit jacket with a bit of extra fabric, right?

Photo by CLIFFORD OLANDAY.
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Jones is tapping into what makes Dior great. In 1947, Christian Dior established a house of unapologetic elegance. Going against the austere mood of the postwar years, he dared dress women in nipped waists and full skirts, promoting an hourglass shape that highlighted the body and eventually changed the direction of how women dressed. Over the decades, under the stewardship of successors, House Dior has continued to champion this brand of Parisian glamour.

From this wellspring of the feminine, Jones has reworked a slew of Diorisms for men. The sash suit is inspired by an archive dress; an organza bomber jacket carries a newsprint pattern akin to the famous newsprint dress from the (infamous) 2000s hobo collection of Dior by John Galliano; the it bag of the aughts, the kidney-shaped Saddle bag, can now be enjoyed by men as over-the-body executions.

Photo by CLIFFORD OLANDAY.
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Most men view clothes as utility, something to protect naked flesh. In Jones' hands, clothes become more than just things to hide in. In a gossamer jacket or a matching set with an all-over print, men can be bold or have fun. They can dream.

With all these interesting creations to gawk at and, of course, photograph, the showroom is quickly enveloped in a perma-buzz. It becomes so busy, in fact, that, in order to take a clean shot of the high-top transparent sneakers without a knee or an elbow sullying the frame, luck and a quick trigger finger are needed.

Photo by CLIFFORD OLANDAY.
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Exuberant conversations float in the scrum. In one corner, a chic female creature singles out a jumpsuit covered in toile de Jouy, the traditional French motif of pastoral scenes, as her favorite, while a pretty waif insists she could wear the sash suits. The crossover appeal of these clothes is real.

Photo by DIOR.
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Speaking of appeal, no Jones collection is complete without intelligent partnerships. This time, he calls on contemporary artist Daniel Arsham to round out the summer story. While Jones looks to Dior’s past for touchstones, he taps Arsham to add futuristic elements, resulting in pieces that are eroded and calcified and cool.

Mirroring Arsham’s work, which can be described as decomposed versions of everyday things, a Saddle bag is rendered in plaster, its ivory surface covered in the Oblique monogram and then interrupted here and there by shallow craters, which are embedded with quartz crystals. The effect is—like in the artist’s meditations—as if you’re living in the future and have unearthed this precious object from the past.

Photo by CLIFFORD OLANDAY.
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But maybe you don’t want to unpack the meanings behind a bag or the motivations of a designer (or the ramblings of an editor), and just want to wear these pieces because they look cool.

Jones understands that a collection needs visual hits to rise above the flood of information suffocating the world today. And so there is the stonified Saddle, the blouson in punchy pink, and a pair of sneakers in degrade blue (the colors, by the way, are inspired by the pink selenite and blue calcite in Arsham’s art objects).

Another crowd-pleaser is the series of bags done in partnership with Rimowa. Dior outdoes itself with this one, creating several covetable pieces, including a handheld case, which can pass as your lunch box at work, and miniature versions of the aluminum luggage that can be slung over the body with a leather strap.

Photo by CLIFFORD OLANDAY.
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Officially, that last bag is called the Personal Clutch and, though the idea brings to mind the handheld stuff holders of chic wives or grandpa's preferred work bag, the power of Dior Men and the story that it has presented since Jones' arrival convince you that, yes, it is okay to wear a baby Rimowa.

Photo by CLIFFORD OLANDAY.
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Because the time to be careful is over. Now that the world appears to be imploding, with viruses spreading like wildfire and mad men causing havoc, it may be best to do what feels good. Carry a clutch. Dress in pink. Wear a suit in a new style. And dare to live. 

Dior Men’s summer 2020 men’s collection is now available at Dior, Solaire Resorts & Casino, Pasay City.

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Clifford Olanday
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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