Dior Men’s Summer 2021 Collection Is A Love Letter To A Continent

13 July 2020
Dior, Menswear, Summer 2020, Kim Jones, Paris Fashion Week
And Dior's creative reimagining of what a fashion show could, and should, be, paid dividends

The Dior Men’s Spring summer 2020 collection was presented not as a show in the traditional sense, but as a two-act fashion film.

Forced, as all fashion houses have been, to rethink their creative direction and show concept in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Kim Jones and Dior decided to make a short documentary about the inspiration behind the collection, followed by a fashion film showcasing the collection. And boy, if this is the future of fashion shows, we’re not mad about it.

We learned about Amoako Boafo, the Ghanaian portrait painter who inspired Jones’ artistic thinking, meeting the artist, getting a feel for his home city, Ghana’s capital, Accra, and spending time in his studio.

Jones then explained in a short interview that he had been looking for an African artist to collaborate with for some time. Spending his childhood all over the continent in Ethiopia, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania, Jones wanted to highlight the difference between the Western world’s perception of Arica, and then ‘The Africa you come from, or regularly visit.’

After an initial meeting in Miami the two men began to collaborate and via these two films, you can see a direct line from Boafo’s beautiful, textural, vibrant portraiture and Dior’s Summer 2020 collection.

Let’s get this out of the way early and say: it’s beautiful. All at once bright but elegant, theatrical but technically modern. The silhouettes are elongated and proportions made flattering by cumabunds and properly tailored, high-waisted trousers. In between these nods to tailoring tradition are pops of industrial, neon yellow and sportswear fabrics. Soft, pastel pinks, purples and blues sit next to greys, whites and blacks in a sort of dream-like haze.

Jones made reference to a famous old Dior Ivy dress that he used as a link between the house and Boafo’s work, and the influence of this floral print is felt throughout the collection, printed and sewn onto shirts, knitted into jumpers. Indeed, Boafo’s portraiture also features, directly translated onto a sweater. In a satisfyingly meta touch, this burned yellow, turtleneck bears the face of a model, also wearing a similar jumper in a brighter shade.

It’s the sort of collection, and styling, that makes you look at something you’d never dream of trying to wear: extra short, high-waisted black leather shorts, for instance, and thinking to yourself: yeah actually, maybe I could wear those.

The key to this show and its presentation, though, is that by meeting the artist who inspired it, by hearing Kim Jones’ thought process and by contextualizing the collection, the viewer gets a much more rounded sense of where it came from, how it was formed and what it means.

So often, fashion shows become easy targets for ridicule because the clothes appear to be presented without context or explanation. If there is anything good at all that can come from the disruption of the coronavirus in the context of menswear, it’s the rethinking and reimagining of what a fashion show can and should be.

If they are all to become mini-documentaries that highlight the work of artists like Amoako Boafo, and their influence in modern menswear, consider us very happy indeed.