The show featured Gwendoline Christie and Robert Pattinson
The poetry that characterized the Dior show this season was much-needed. Presented in a structure on Place de la Concorde, a massive screen wrapped around the runway. As the lights dimmed, huge high-resolution close-ups of Gwendoline Christie and Robert Pattinson’s faces appeared in front of us. And then, they spoke. In their deep, dramatic voices, they recited The Waste Land by TS Eliot – the intense, complicated, significant poem written after the Great War – as Kim Jones’s wistful creations floated down the runway in an intense harmony offering a moment of reflection.
The collection drew on the work of Yves Saint Laurent
If Eliot’s poem deals with post-war decay and disillusionment – themes as relevant in 2023 as they were in 1922 when he wrote it – Jones’s collection was about restoration. “I was preoccupied with the idea of regeneration and renewal this season and how to approach it,” he said. He reflected the idea in the history of Dior itself: the house’s 1958 transition from the death of Christian Dior to the arrival of Yves Saint Laurent, who, at 21, became the youngest couturier ever, and whose progressive outlook would be a watershed in fashion.
It was water-themed
In the fishermen’s shirts Saint Laurent transformed into haute couture silhouettes – at a time when taking inspiration from working men’s clothes was not the done thing – Jones detected a connection with The Waste Land’s themes of water (more specifically, thirst and drowning). It materialised in a water-centric collection that transmuted Jones’s romantic, delicate tailoring and workwear with details and constructions native to fishing and sailing, including various plays on life jackets. “There is a sense of change in the individual garments themselves, which can often be worn in different ways by the wearer, metamorphosing,” Jones said.
It proposed new ideas of suiting
“There is a sense of change and ease in the collection, particularly through the tailoring silhouettes,” Jones explained. “A coming together of the formal with the informal.” He was referring to the hybridizations of tailoring and knitwear in looks that emerged as a generational take on suiting: soft and easy but with the elegance of old-fashioned dress codes. It’s a study to which Jones is no stranger, and, infused with the spirit of Saint Laurent, it made total sense.
It was a moment of reflection
With all its influencers and selfie sticks and hordes of fashion fans crowding the entrances of shows, Jones’s staging made for a striking contrast to the hustle and bustle of fashion week, itself such a contrast to the dismal things taking place in the real world. Behind the scenes this season, designers are talking about how to redirect the spotlights of their enormous platforms to those realities. In the timeless melancholy of Eliot’s epic, Jones found a poetic way of doing just that.
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk