Outside a few anomalies, the menswear calendar is fixed. There are Spring/Summer shows in June, and Fall/Winter shows in January—for the most part, that’s it. That’s when the fashion media covers men’s collections. Last night’s Dior Men’s Pre-Fall 2019 collection wasn’t any ordinary show, however, and Kim Jones is no ordinary designer. A tectonic shift is incoming.

You may be wondering why we would cover a pre-fall show (or better yet what menswear brand even does pre-collections). Both are good questions. The answer is, simply, because it’s Jones. Following his whirlwind Dior Men’s debut last season, everything the man touches is newsworthy, and this show is no exception. While pre-collections are predominantly commercial efforts—and almost solely the territory of womenswear—Jones, along with Raf Simons and John Galliano, began experimenting with the idea of men’s couture last season, so the idea of moving to a women’s style calendar is not so far-fetched. In fact, during his prior tenure at Louis Vuitton, Jones—including capsules, special projects and so forth—designed nearly 12 collections a year; unfortunately, only the two seasonal flagship efforts received full-fledged shows. Now, working at the pre-eminent couture house in the world, Jones has the ability (and, more to the point, the funds), to hold a show whenever he pleases. For his second effort, he chose one of his favorites cities: Tokyo.

“The show is in Tokyo as Mr. Dior was incredibly fascinated by Japanese culture and I also love Japan, so it’s a good blend of the past and the present reflecting the heritage of Dior,” Jones said to Dry Clean Only when reached for comment. Practically Jones’ second home, the world-renowned world traveller has visited the country over 90 times throughout his life. The country’s synthesis of classic menswear, denim and streetwear is fundamental to his aesthetic—similarly to how the country’s juxtaposition of traditional Japanese garb and the growing influence of European tailoring was to Mr. Dior himself.

Rather than simply hold a one day spectacle akin to the various women’s resort shoes, Jones staged a three-day-long city takeover. It began with the first worldwide release of the Dior Men’s x KAWS capsule collection at Isetan on November 28th, which featured live screen-printing, personal customization, exclusive T-shirts, hoodies and boro denim all featuring the new Dior Bee designed by KAWS (in pink rather than yellow, a location exclusive). Next came a meet-and-greet hosted by System magazine, where Jones and KAWS—current cover stars—signed autographs and introduced the capsule. Then, a Dior takeover of the infamous robot show in Shinjuku, where Jones’ cast of celebrity friends and clients enjoyed one of the most ridiculous attractions Tokyo has to offer, albeit with a luxuriously Dior twist including high-class champagne and transportation by Mercedes Benz sprinters. Lastly, of course, there was the runway show.

Held in a hanger on an island in Tokyo Bay, Jones’ second show was nearly as grandiose as his first. Like the Spring/Summer show, in the center of a circular runway stood a nearly 20-foot-tall statue, however for this season Jones opted to collaborate with a Japanese native. Designed by noted illustrator Hajime Sorayama (who, according to Jones, is on the level of Yayoi Kusama or Takashi Murakami, just less internationally recognized), the statue was a reinterpretation of a drawing from the mid-’80s, depicting a female android. While Soriyama’s “superrealism” is a commentary on how close one can get to an intended object, for Jones it was reminiscent of the late-’20s classic German sci-fi film Metropolis, which served as inspiration for the collection (Looks 27, 30, 32 and 43). Building on that sci-fi theme, Jones' collection included everything from iridescent fibers (Looks 33, 34) to reflective hardware and earrings resembling Star Trek transponders, once again in collaboration with Alyx’s Matthew Williams and AMBUSH’s Yoon Ahn, respectively. The clearest sci-fi nod was this season’s reworked Dior logo (Look 1), presumably a reference to another classic, Tron. To top it all off, an entirely metallic saddle bag (Look 3), made the message loud and clear.

Yet, despite these futuristic leanings, the true focus of the collection were three classic Dior signatures. “The Pre-Fall collection is based on three classic Dior signatures—houndstooth, leopard print and cherry blossom,” Jones said. Sure enough, the houndstooth was everywhere, from topcoats and trousers (Looks 1, 2, 3 and 4) to suiting (Looks 10, 11 and 12). While the oblique cut (a Mr. Dior signature that was last season's’ defining characteristic) returned (Looks 7, 39, 40 and 42), according to Jones—“we also looked at the Oblique again, in various forms, from a peacoat to a long coat, to the suit, which is now a part of the tailoring collection”—several suits were decidedly more tailored, harkening back to Jones’ savile row training back during his days at Dunhill (Looks 3, 10, 11, 13 and 23). As for leopard print, it came in electric blues and reflective silvers, thematic while still reminiscent of those notable Louis Vuitton collections that explored big game and Jones’ other greatest passion, the African safari (Looks 25, 26 and 28). Even more impressive were the white and black renditions, where shaggy leopard fur formed an ombre effect as it eventually shifted to a sheer lace, highlighting both the feminine nature of Jones’ Dior, not to mention the type of fabric wizardry only possible at the Dior atelier (Looks 4, 6 and 41).

Jones’ ability to zone in on three Dior signatures, relate each back to himself, then present them in a modern way, speaks both to his proclivity for intense research and the sheer amount of time he has spent in the Dior archive since his appointment. This is perhaps best embodied by the cherry blossoms. While a Dior signature, the motif is held in even higher regard in Japan, where the flower is a national emblem and sakura (Japanese for cherry blossom) season in February a symbol of pride across the country. This was abundantly apparent in a Jones’ collection, particularly since he “love[s] the contrast of the landscapes in Japan,” he said. On one metallic coat—as clear a reference to Metropolis as any in the show—what at first appeared to be a reflective pattern due to the fabrics composition was in fact an extremely subtle cherry blossom overlay, a feat of manufacturing marvel (Look 27). While other instances where more straightforward, such as the trenchcoat (Look 8) and three-piece get-up (Look 5) in all-over print cherry blossom plastered with Soriyama’s illustrations—Jones does love his graphics—the more subtle piece was the true testament to Jones’ menswear savant.

The remainder of the collection was a decidedly more commercial affair, from safari jackets featuring Williams’ hardware and ripped black denim (Look 14) to lush brown overcoats and patterned cargo pants (Look 24). Even the new black commando boots seen throughout are sure to sell well worldwide. They are much more likely to actually end up in stores (this is pre-fall), and will no doubt do numbers. The iridescent harness (Looks 29 and 35) (likely a work of Williams) will most-assuredly sell out. That said, despite the more salable items, Jones ambitious collection is a reflection of how seriously he takes his new role, and how passionate he is about the subject matter.

The last two looks—a cropped blazer (Look 44) and three-quarter length coat (Look 45)— featuring kimono style collars, synched at the waist through external straps—were at once clearly Japanese-inspired yet still a reference to Dior’s celebrated bar jacket. At the same time though, in supple leather, both were clearly a product of Jones. A subtle, yet very powerful finale, and an impressive feat to be sure. Whether or not Jones continues to show pre-collections—he supposedly intends to hold shows at various cities across the globe—if he continues to combine his myriad references and manic research with clothes men actually want to wear, he will be the man to beat every cycle. Some say he already is.

Tags: dior-homme, future-grails, kim-jones, dior