Let bygones be bygones—this commonly used idiom (or your personal excuse to escape reality) originating from a Shakespearean tale never existed in the idiosyncratic universe of Kim Jones. Located somewhere in England’s Notting Hill, Jones’s brutalist two-storey loft serves as a utopian play space for art collectors housing rare art curios ranging from fetish-fueled Sorayama nudes straight from Japan and pieces by British-renowned Bloomsbury Group members Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell to auctioned catalogues of Andy Warhol and exclusive letters from Diana Vreeland, just to name a few. Complementing these art collectibles are Studio 54 era archives of the late performance artist Leigh Bowery, Melissa Caplan and the punk-inspired Christopher Nemeth along with rival capsule collections from his school days.
Born to a hydrogeologist and a housewife, Jones spent most of his childhood travelling through the highlands of Africa and Europe making him what we would call a verified globetrotter. As a teenager, the abstinent lifestyle of the young future designer lay much in contrast with his inspirations from British punk rock bands and the underground club scene of the ‘80s. He also fostered a passion for collecting at a young age—a fact that comes as no surprise considering the adult Jones’s portfolio of collaborations at major fashion houses.
Raymond Pettibon and Kim Jones. Photo credit: Babyhouse
But within the artistic universe of the creatives, the concept of collaboration has always been the answer to evolution. The idea of a constant conversation between the designer and their audience inducing political allegories as conceptual talks for runways lay as the candid answer to what fashion is today. And it’s really no neo-millennial concept that started from a Virgil Abloh-era of fashion. Look back into the turbulent world of costume history and you will see a myriad of art-fashion collaborations such as Schiaparelli’s Lobster dress with Dalí and the Mondrian dress by the prêt-à-porter pioneer Yves Saint Laurent.
Today, we have Kim Jones—the brain behind that renowned Supreme x Louis Vuitton collaboration. When he was announced as the creative director of Dior, the 39-year-old designer commenced the start of his tenure by appointing and curating young upcoming designers such as Yoon Ahn from Ambush and Matthew Williams from 1017 Alyx 9SM for the accessory department, and collaborating with contemporary artists the likes of Hajime Sorayama, KAWS and now, Raymond Pettibon for the Fall/Winter 2019 collection.
Raymond Pettibon, No title (She must know...), 2010 Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner
Jones first met punk-inspired artist Raymond Pettibon in New York through a mutual friend, and the two shared a common interest in the natural world. However, Pettibon’s work is nothing new to Jones. In fact, the fashion designer has been following Pettibon’s work ever since the former’s early teenage years thanks to an interest in punk rock bands such as Black Flag and Foo Fighters. One of Pettibon’s most famous works is the album cover of ‘Family Man’ by Black Flag. With bold black font against a purple background, the ‘Family Man’ cover presents a suicidal scene of what seems to be the aftermath of a family’s collapse. It is erratic yet romantic, displaying the raw tragedy and hostility behind human relationships. Pettibon’s works mainly comprise confrontational prints in extremely precise brush strokes with ink to depict concepts such as political archetypes, art and sexuality. His first publication ‘A Pen Of All Work’ is an artistic compilation of all his signature works, comprising almost 700 images, contributions to important parties and an interview with the artist himself. It was only in 1995 that Pettibon registered with David Zwirner Gallery and inaugurated his first exhibition in collaboration with Marcel Dzama.
When it comes to translating Pettibon’s art pieces into clothes, Jones masterfully purposed them into a series of couture-level garments and street-style-worthy accessories. A sartorially tailored dark grey suit jacket ensemble styled with a tactical vest deeply embroidered with Pettibon’s iconic ‘Owl’ piece in a metallic colour palette was a real showstopper. Preceding this was a series of silk blended dress shirts, scarves and leather boots deeply embroidered or printed with Pettibon’s works. The hardware for the collection includes punk-inspired amulets and a tactical take of the vests and belts for that techwear twist. But what really caught our eye was the finale look from the runway. If Dior couture were to be expressed with just a look and nothing else, this would be it. Featuring one of Pettibon’s most famous works—a piece aptly labelled the ‘Mona Lisa’—the look displayed the zeitgeist of handiwork and craftsmanship, with carefully embroidered beading completely done by hand by 12 petites mains at the Dior Atelier, taking a total of 1,600 man hours to make. If you do the math, that’s 200 days of a 9-5 job.
Pettibon also imagined a new exclusive white leopard motif inspired by Monsieur Christian Dior’s love for animal prints. This motif, interpreted by the artist in a contemporary version, appears on a new line of accessories. The emblematic Saddle and Roller bags, done in the iconic Dior Oblique jacquard, take on this striking design, giving the bags a new lease of life with an art-piece-like treatment. Meanwhile, the B23 sneakers, in hypnotic spots recalling Pettibon’s work, subtly reveal the name Dior.
So, would the man himself wear pieces from the collaboration? “I’d have to lose some weight and get my hair done!” Pettibon quips humorously with a slight smirk in an interview after the show. Sure, we can let bygones be bygones, but sometimes there’s a great exception. Case in point, this Dior x Raymond Pettibon collection.
The collection is now available at Dior Men, KLCC.