Dior Homme celebrates Kerouac and the Beats

Yesterday, fashion prodigy and artistic director Kim Jones staged the latest Dior Homme show in the British capital, following past presentations in Paris.

The night was a tour de force and complemented other remarkable Dior activations in his native London, such as the inauguration of the Christmas tree Jones designed for Claridge’s and an intimate party at 14 Cavendish.

The fabulous evening, which featured in this order, an exhibition, a catwalk, and a soirée, was inspired by Jack Kerouac’s defining masterpiece ‘On the Road’. When published, The New York Times praised the oeuvre as “the most beautifully executed, the clearest and the most important utterance yet made by the generation Kerouac himself named years ago as ‘beat,’ and whose principal avatar he is.”

“The Beat poets shifted the way of thinking and young people are still reading Kerouac now” Jones commented on his inspiration. ”It was a real youth movement and that’s what’s interesting when you’re looking at Dior. Both (Dior and Kerouac) were always very much thinking about youth when they were working so I wanted to make it more youthful and play with it a bit.” Resonating with today’s generational concerns, Jones presented an eclectic, detailed and simply stunning collection.

Highlights of the evening also included an opening-exhibition, brilliantly staged in partnership with Peter Harrington rare books’ dealer. The display was curated by Sammy Jay, Literary Specialist, who’s helped Jones acquire rare titles for his personal collection over the years.

The exhibition celebrated the Beat Generation in true luxury and sharp intelligence. Displayed in cabinets, first-edition, signed books, alongside vinyl records, sleeves and other archival materials vividly encapsulated the era. Rare copies of Cross Country Tape Journals by David Wojnarowicz, The Americans by Robert Frank, Naked Lunch by William Burroughs, early work by Ed Ruscha, Bird at the Band Box by Charlie Parker or Patti Smiths’ signed copy of Babel were on view to the lucky few. The exhibition truly and unexpectedly elevated the evening to other heights.

“Brought together, this collection captures some of the youthful thrill of sheer potential, felt and written by Kerouac and his fellow wanderers, for whom there was… “nowhere to go but everywhere, keep rolling under the stars…””. Jay said. “French poet Arthur Rimbaud was a significant proto-Beat icon, and the selection pays him due homage, in a rare first edition of Une saison en enfer, or a volume of Rimbaud’s masterpiece inscribed to Kim Jones by Kate Moss.” Jay continued on one of Patti Smith’s main influences.

This exhibition and the access to such rare materials, on view for one-night only by VIPs, epitomized the concept of luxury. It also acted as ‘a literary transition’ towards the second part of the night: the spectacular presentation of the Autumn 22 collection.

The latter opened with a large-scale text-covered black and white ‘carpet scroll’ of the legendary 120-foot-long roll on which Jack Kerouac rapidly conceived his second novel. “I wanted to mix and match things from different periods of the archive from round the time when they [Dior and Kerouac] were both creating,” commented Jones. “The show was designed as if you had a big suitcase when you went on your road-trip”.

Christian Dior died the same year ‘On the Road’ came out in 1957, here by uniting both geniuses in history. Dior was an avid traveler and from the 1950s America embodied modernity. While he never met Kerouac or the Beats, their influence permeates the legacy of the French House.

In this new collection, which followed the impeccable Peter Doig’s collaboration, Jones smartly merged the finesse of Dior’s savoir-faire with the coolness of Kerouac’s counterculture. Fair isle knits were embroidered with sequins, while original foulard silks from the 1960s illustrated shirts and jackets. Vintage, washed denims, the symbol of American fashion yet invented in Nîmes, France, was highly celebrated in this collection which mixed beautiful accessories, saddle bags, exotic leathers, Iphone cases in a gentle palette of indigos, brown, oranges, yellows and khakis.

Around ten minutes of pumping music and powerwalk by beautiful diverse male models who had almost all read ‘On the Road’ to prepare for the show.

Last but not least, the event went on with a fantastic fête attended by the likes of superstars Naomi Campbell, Tom Daley, Mark Strong, Common, Benoit Magimel, Stephen Jones, Tim Walker, Asa Butterfield and more. The evening continued with Princess Julia’s amazing DJ set featuring disco, rock and electro hits prior to reaching total perfection thanks to the iconic concert by the one and only Grace Jones.

With such a ‘perfect day’, as Lou Reed sang, ‘I’m glad I spent it’ with Kim Jones and Dior.