Looking back at the history of fashion, there are always some designers to be found who can be said to have changed the flow of the times. For example, Coco Chanel, who designed a tailor-made jacket for women in a time when the dress was still at its peak; Helmut Lang, who charmed people with his minimalistic and refined looks when colorful and extravagant pieces were popular. Or Hedi Slimane, who gained many followers with his skinny rock look. These are all designers with their own unique style and all have changed the flow of fashion in their own time. The current creative director at DIOR, Kim Jones, can also be said to be one of these people. A specialist in various fields, he has continued to include his favorite things into the maison’s finest, and with that created his own set of values. He also understands very well the value of collaboration; in this article, we will take a look at the background of his business strategy designing with others creations that can only be made by that specific combination.
His collections at the time, like his graduation collection and his debut at the London Fashion week, were created by using inspiration gained from the cultures he personally experienced. Afterwards, he ended up as the designer of Louis Vuitton after working for brands representing his own country like Umbro and dunhill. After Jones moved to Louis Vuitton, he used his skills in collaborating to design collections and create a new image for Louis Vuitton. He introduced a style of collaboration (double name) into the high fashion world of the maison that was originally born in the street scene. This is something he can do as a person who has experienced the street scene and knows its strengths.
For his debut collection at Louis Vuitton, he designed a collection combining the Masai checkered pattern (from the area of Africa where he spent a part of his youth) with Vuitton’s Damier pattern. Afterwards, he moved from England to Japan and created a bold collection with graphic designs of ropes, paying homage to Christopher Nemeth, who combined elements from the holy land of tailored items, Saville Row, combining them with elements from punk and street culture. He even went on to do a collaboration with fragment design, a brand by the ‘godfather’ of the Ura-Harajuku culture, Hiroshi Fujiwara, who had a huge influence on him. He’s also known to have done a legendary collaboration with Supreme, one of the luxury brands also known to be deeply connected with street culture. This collaboration, boldly using both brand logos in a powerful way even charmed many people who used to be sceptic of street culture and created a movement across the planet.
After he started working as a designer for DIOR, his creations started carving out their own path even further. His first collection at DIOR, created as a team with AMBUSH’s YOON and 1017ALYX 9SM’s Matthew was also a collaboration with modern-day artist KAWS. This item combining the beautiful and brilliant tailored style we know DIOR for with a pop logo and graphics to have us experience a new direction for the brand. After moving to DIOR, his creations started focusing more and more on the connection between art and fashion.
The collection he designed together with Hajime Sorayama features items combining the high-end tailored feel with the artist’s art style, displaying a kind of futuristic world-view. In the collaboration he did with modern-day artist Daniel Arsham, he made full use of the artist’s style known as ‘Future Lyric’which was based on the idea of finding buried items from the future. He even did a legendary collaboration with the Air Jordan sneakers which were the origin of modern sneaker culture as well as STUSSY’s founder, Shawn Stüssy. For this collaboration, they used graphics reminiscent of the period Stüssy was active as well as using a font personally designed by him over the whole collection. Jones, who worked at Gimme Five before, the distributor that handled STUSSY’s items in its early period in England, is also part of the STUSSY community and has created a collection here a collection that can be said to be the ultimate combination of street and luxury fashion.
For recent collections, he dedicated a collection as an homage to his deceased friend Judy Blame, who was a stylist responsible for the foundations of punk fashion. The collection features punk accessories like the designer himself owns as well as a beret that took inspiration from the legendary creative team known as Buffalo, which had several ties with Judy as well.
The items he designed for Louis Vuitton as well as DIOR are not mere combinations of brands and artists. They express the brilliance of the real deal, born out of his knowledge of many fields, like designer brands, street fashion, as well as the subcultures of art, music and movies; that is why they have so much power to persuade. These products, created by knowing the characteristics of the elements used as well as understanding the archive to use only the items created to be of the best quality, are singular items that will continue to be talked about for years to come. Kim Jones is a modern designer, continuing to run at the front line of maison culture while still using street-like styles; that makes it that we will have to pay attention to his creations in the future as well.
Text_ SHUHEI HASEGAWA