Dior Men’s collection ‘Hypercolored, Hyperreal’ features artworks by Kenny Scharf with traditional Chinese embroidery translated into the idiom of the French House
While lived in the digital space, the tactile impact of the collection was retained thanks to Dior’s visual codes and the emphasis of the global nature of artistry, revealing Kim Jones’ attention to youth culture and contemporary street artists, echoing Christian Dior’s penchant in his early career. Jones made collaborations with artists the core of his design process at Dior, alongside his focus on garment construction, made-to-order pieces accompanied by haute couture craftsmanship. Scharf’s works move between surrealism and abstract, enriching Dior’s partnership with Artestar, a global licensing agency, and creative consultancy representing photographers, designers, and artists. The collection, aimed at blending heritage with present history, combines the American painter’s figurative artwork and pop exuberance with tailored elegance: Scharf’s cartoonish illustrations were transformed from spray-painted canvases into crafted detailed embroidery on shirts and outerwear.
Kevin Scharf’s When Worlds Collide, a 1984 work on the influence of pop culture and science fiction, has been stitched on a shirt: in 7.000 hours of work over ninety-five days, artisans dyed satin yarn in 300 shades to recreate the painting’s degraded colors. They used their needles like a brush, forming smooth movements of tones. Craftsmen crossed yarns within the jacquard to produce detailed layered drawings on a traditional Thai loom: they managed to scan the combination of Scharf’s color design using intelligently guided printing machines, following Kim Jones’ intent to soften the tailoring. Dior ateliers were joined by Chinese artisans who transformed Scharf’s paintings into garments to pay tribute to China’s cultural richness: «People talk about ‘Made in China’ in a negative way, but the craftsmanship they have is full-on», said the designer. The interaction between traditional techniques and modernity is revealed in Chinese seed embroidery, a stitch method that dates back to the third-century Han dynasty adopted to produce Royal Court garments. Along with past works taken from his archive, Scharf created new artworks specifically for the collection and reinterpreted Chinese zodiac signs for the show. These illustrations embodied House of Dior’s admiration for Chinese craft, echoing that of Monsieur’s, and complemented by the painter’s psychedelic prints: favoring shades and combining opposites, from yellow to purple, orange, and blue, he brought out the contrast between happiness and sadness.
The creative director matched military-inspired garments with Dior’s Bar Jacket, which also appeared as a mention of men’s blazer belted at the waist. The jacket cut in the extreme double-breasted line Oblique was assembled using traditional tailoring techniques, showing the details of a military jacket with epaulets, breast pockets, and the buttons covered in fabric from the classic one of Christian Dior. The jacket revealed a moiré bow at the back of it: the fabric, used in the Fifties and Sixties, gave a bloated aspect to the bow, mixing a couture particular with extravagance. The collection is based on the comfort dressing that has become a uniform for people working and socializing from home: cavalry twill officer inspired belted suit walked down the runway alongside loose jacquard pants and oblique patterned mink slippers: «I wanted to do something quite, fun and poppy» explained Jones, since «everything is down at the moment». Chinese traditional techniques have also been applied on small accessories: embellished sash belts inspired by Scharf’s painting L.A. Blobz and Koz added fantasy to straight suits, berets that revoked the imaginary of the Country, a reinterpretation of pieces which made Dior’s history. Among them, the Saddle bag was introduced in a neon pink and green crocodile leather, a hyper colored version which embodied the combination of Dior heritage rewritten in a futuristic key.
In addition to the sartorial heritage, Chinese culture is recalled by Dior Men jewelry designer Yoon Ahn, who showed pieces with traditional stones such as lapis, and jade. Chrysanthemum boutonnieres were created to symbolize the Chinese flower of vitality by Maison Lemarié, one of the last plumassiers and florists in the world today, founded in 1880. The show took place in an intergalactic scenography in accordance with French director Thomas Vanz’s fascination with astrophysics. Known for his deep space renderings, he has been experimenting with pouring inks into an aquarium: falling, they create different backdrops and produce bright supernovas. «The finale is a continuous cascade of it on loop» said the director, who conceived it in combination with the celestial fire made of glitter drifting upwards. House of Dior has invited American DJ Honey Dijon, who has collaborated with Lady Miss Kier to record a new version of Deee-Lite’s What is Love?, filling the space with electronic vibrations, meeting Scharf’s psychedelic view.
‘Hypercolored, Hyperreal’ fuses Dior inheritance with the excellence of savoir-faire, reexplored in ornamented garments brimming with vivacity: «The fun and energy of that time – you see young kids being excited by Kenny Scharf’s works. It’s speaking across generations». The collaboration between Kim Jones and artist Kevin Scharf aims to reinvent traditional techniques and bring them into the future, looking at the current global events. Christian Dior founded the label in 1946 when Europe was suffering World War II’s effects; overcoming adversity is inscribed in Dior’s history and is mirrored in Jones’ collection. The universe of surreal creatures and cartoon characters reflected Scharf’s definition of art as a therapeutic process and Kim Jones’ visual intention of an escape from the pandemic fatigue: «It was fun to bring all these things together in a negative time, to have a bit of optimism». In this global context, the Dior men’s collection explored transformations of the perception of time and space through a revised spirit of tailoring, in a dialogue among Dior’s designs and Scharf’s surrealism, celebrating the details and time-honored techniques.
Christian Dior, ‘Hypercolored, hyperreal’.
The Pre-Fall 2021 men’s collection by Kim Jones, with Kevin Scharf
The spirit of innovation merged with sartorial details at Dior Men Pre-Fall 2021, displaying the classic menswear lines with Kim Jones’ urge to pioneer. The collection was scheduled to debut in Beijing, but due to the pandemic, which reshifted the plans, it was unveiled in a live stream video and a screening party at the city’s International Media Center.
Kim Jones worked with Yoon Ahn, Hajime Sorayama, KAWS, Matthew Williams, and Shawn Stüssy. This season he chose Kenny Scharf, the American painter known for his impact on New York’s East Village art scene during the Eighties, alongside Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.