Inspired by Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’, a seminal novel of the Beat generation, Dior adorned the runway in an 80-metre display featuring the novel’s words and signature stream-of-consciousness. Kim Jones, as well as being at the helm of the luxury fashion house, is an avid collector of rare literature and literary memorabilia, so it seemed only a matter of time before these two worlds aesthetically converged for Dior.
References to Kerouac’s rite-of-passage novel even worked their way into the models’ styling, with hair gelled back, added glasses and the dominance of checked shirts and jeans, paying homage to the figures on the book’s cover. As well as being linked by Kim Jones’ own interests, Jack Keruoac is linked to Dior history in being a contemporary of Christian Dior himself. By the end of the second world war, both creatives were exploring their own veins of counter-culture through their different mediums of expression.
And now, in 2021, Kim Jones hopes that in drawing on Kerouac for the collection, the same inference of anti-establishment youth culture will translate to today’s generation – chiming with how young people are moving against their parents’ political and social allegiances.
The collection itself fused the American sensibilities of the late 1950s with an updated, distinctly Dior flair; shirts constructed of strips of glitter and tulle were updated with skinny ties, shearling jackets sat atop cable knit and argyle sweaters, and trousers (knitted too) were tucked into boots. In the latest addition to high fashion hybrid-trench coats (after Balenciaga’s bathrobe trench coat construction), Jones gave us a trench coat turned backpack.
Another standout was a leather motorbike jacket, complete with more Kerouac visual references painted on to the leather. An array of tweed jackets were out in full force too, paired with ankle length wide legged trousers revealing the flash of a sequinned sock below. Taking the theme further, Kim Jones worked the show’s aesthetic into the designs of the accessories, too: rope detailing embellished bags, hiking boots marched down the catwalk, and brogues had a serious moment.
Driving the immersivity of the presentation further was a surprise performance by Grace Jones at the show’s afterparty, offering a multidisciplinary celebration of the arts. In a way, this lavish affair was a fitting offering from Jones for his homecoming show: Dior has not shown in London since 2003. If anything, the collection goes some way in signifying a shift towards a resurgence of mid-century aesthetics, which will no doubt be popping up on further runways for AW22.