Wow, what a trip!
When I heard Dior menswear was collaborating with Kenny Scharf for AW21 I tried to keep my expectations in check. You never know quite which way these things will go, but I’m happy to report the collection looks superb.
Scharf is a painter who achieved fame in the 80s alongside his NYC club kid cohorts Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. I didn’t get my first close-up look of his eye-popping work till the late 80s. I used to see it at the Anthony d’Offay gallery in Dering Street, popping in during my lunch hour from my Saturday job across the road at Debenhams. (I loved that job and was very good at customer service!) It was the era of Tama Janowitz, Brett Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney and naturally I was obsessed with all things New York – as we all were.
The Dior AW21 menswear collection places Scharf’s signature neon creatures on hand-embroidered shirts, incredible sash belts and a highly collectible saddle bag. One shirt (below) features an embroidered replica of Scharf’s 1984 painting ‘When The Worlds Collide’. It uses a ‘seed stitch’ technique dating back to the third-century Han dynasty (requiring 7,000 hours of work over 95 days, according to WWD – I want the embroiderer’s chiropractor’s number).
The rest of the collection channels the loosened up tailoring of lockdown, juxtaposed with beautiful boxy bags, satin coats and 90s Harajuku-kid hairdos that Dior’s new gen-Z stans will love. (The carpet slippers get a hard pass from me though.)
Where I think Kim Jones’ Dior menswear captures the zeitgeist over Maria Grazia Chiuri’s womenswear is in the team he surrounds himself with. He is naturally plugged into the youth culture scenes of music, sport, art and street wear, so has access to the best (read: most relevant) DJs, stylists and other creative ‘It’ people of the moment and feeds into their energy. I confess, as a perpetual celebrity-avoider, the celeb-fest grates on me a bit, but I can see that it’s all part of the modern hit machine. This collection is going to be another runaway success. Watch the video here.
WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Dior menswear AW21
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