Dior Spring Summer 2023 Men “Monsieur Dior to Duncan Grant”. Story by Eleonora de Gray, Editor-in-Chief of RUNWAY MAGAZINE.
Charleston is modernist home and studio of the painters Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell in Sussex, England. It is now open to the public as a museum and cultural centre with a dynamic year-round programme of exhibitions, commissions, events and festivals.
Charleston was a gathering point for some of the 20th century’s most radical artists, writers and thinkers known collectively as the Bloomsbury group. It is where they came together to imagine society differently and has always been a place where art and experimental thinking are at the centre of everyday life. Charleston will hold a major exhibition celebrating the lasting style impact of the Bloomsbury group. ‘bring no clothes: Bloomsbury & fashion’ curated by Charlie Porter will open in Sussex, England in September 2023 and will be accompanied by a book published by penguin.
“Granville and Sussex have a similar climate; the weather, the light and the garden tie one place to the other. For both Christian Dior and Duncan Grant, their homes, their gardens, and their private environments were so important for their creativity. It was these meaningful, private spheres that were translated into their work and became public. Here, we are mixing the utilitarian, natural and gardening elements with stylised, luxurious, new look facets and Duncan Grant artworks in the collection – the private and the public together.
There is an idea of the passage of time, the changing weather and light of the seasons, as well as continuity, artistic communities and the legacy of the house of Dior.” Kim Jones conceived as a continuation of the conversation that started for winter, of looking at Christian Dior in this 75th anniversary year of the house, here the collection is once more made glorious summer by Kim Jones, the artistic director of men’s collections.
We travel in space and time from Paris to the countryside, to Normandy and Granville – Dior’s birthplace and the home of his legendary garden – as well as to Sussex and Charleston, the country residence of the Bloomsbury group artist Duncan Grant. Once again, personal histories intertwine through the collection, linking the past with the present and the future of the house; from past creative milieus to their influence on present ones.
The changing light and the mutability of the natural environment are reflected in the colour palette of the collection, from the gradation of Dior grays, pinks and pastels, to the utilitarian gardening, walking and fishing, greens and blues. All are employed with a certain well-bred rebellion; an insouciance in clothes and accessories, at once extravagant and practical, formal and informal, that betray a stratification of history but evoke an effortless contemporary existence.
Reclaimed cashmere, double-breasted tailored coats are teamed with tailored shorts in thirties fabrications – with built-in Turned-down waistbands – and walking shoes. The new bar jackets continue, made in semi-transparent silk organza, to reveal the strict, traditional masculine construction of the garments underneath; sweeping cotton duster coats are casually slung over tech reflective gilets; Duncan Grant’s lily pond screen (c.1913) punctuates reflective tech fabric and traditional needlepoint; the Dior cannage continues to be used as utilitarian quilting for coats; while Duncan Grant’s sketches are translated as complex yet easeful hand knits.
Smart insouciance together with elegant practicality also produces effortless, everyday luxe in bags and footwear in the collection, belying the complexity of the design process behind both. The atelier together with mystery ranch – a technical, outdoor brand, revered for its work with the rescue services – produces new, practical, compartmentalised saddle bags, rucksacks and belt bags for the collection. The rucksacks, which can be worn with suits, are equipped with detachable waterproof covers and hoods.
Embroidered overshoes are paired with Dior Carlo derbies. The new cannage sandals are made in one piece from recycled rubber, while the boots are crafted by assembling two interconnected parts. Each is a feat of technical engineering not usually achieved at a fashion house. Stephen Jones’ inimitable millinery also features high-tech construction with 3d printed ‘pergola’ gardening hats layered over baseball caps.
The design is one based on the straw gardening hat Duncan Grant wore throughout his life to paint in, combined with the trellis-work of the pergola in monsieur Dior’s garden.