This article was originally published on December 3, 2019
Over the weekend, French luxury house Dior confirmed a collaboration with Shawn Stussy, the mind behind SoCal’s storied surf and skate brand.
Shawn Stussy is only the latest in a long string of collabs that have seen the iconic atelier completely transformed. The man behind Dior’s skate tee revolution? That’d be Kim Jones. And he’s as un-Christian as it gets.
Since taking the reins in March 2018, Jones (British citizen, Vuitton alum) has revitalized the other LVMH brand through his trademark mix of luxury softness and streetwear edge. But even though his resume at the house includes 22-foot statues and a $30,000 robot bag, Dior x Shawn Stussy – in some ways, the ultimate collab – might be Jones' most ambitious effort to date.
Forget “The New Look.” To understand Dior x Stussy, start with the man – and the collabs – that came before it.
Dior x KAWS
For Jones’ first Dior show, he tapped street artist Brian Donnelly (aka KAWS) to fill out the runway set. The result was a 10-meter statue of KAWS’ famous “BFF” character, complete with its own Dior suit.
Jones (born 1979) came of age during the heyday of street art, when names like Inkie and Banksy were just breaking out against the unfettered excess of the '80s. “I’ve grown up loving KAWS,” Jones revealed to Esquire last March. “He’s one of the major artists of his generation and it’s for everybody really.”
Dior x Raymond Pettibon
The son of a hydrogeologist, Jones spent parts of his childhood in Tanzania, Ecuador, Kenya, and Botswana. It was during these travels that he saw “the first garment he ever loved: a T-shirt bearing the photo of a lion.”
For Dior’s Fall 2019 collection, Jones collaborated with legendary designer (and LA punk fixture) Raymond Pettibon on a series of garments bearing his zoological drawings. “Kim knew that I had made drawings with animals in them and asked me to make some new works with leopards,” the artist told Vogue Runway. “I was impressed.”
Dior x 1017 ALYX 9SM
That same premiere show featured accessories designed by Matthew M. Williams, the designer behind luxury streetwear line 1017 ALYX 9SM. While Williams and Jones are personal friends, the presence of bondage-inspired buckles in the latter’s vision for Dior speaks to something more.
“Rave festivals – that was when I first started going out,” Jones explained to Vogue in 2004. The late '90s London rave scene produced legendary music and an aesthetic all its own, including buckles of the sort that “club kid-turned-techn-D.J.-turned-designer” Williams uses for ALYX.
Dior x Yoon Ahn
Ahn, one half of cult jeweler AMBUSH, met Jones through Kanye West around the same time she met Virgil Abloh. Jones’ extended friend group – in the words of writer Romany Williams, “the Antwerp Six for the insta-generation” – met through their shared creative interests. Now that they’ve all found success, friends sharing interests just takes place on a bigger stage.
Dior x Hajime Sorayama
Yet, that stage is not all the world. Jones’ collab with Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama – whose Dior fembot and $30,000 saddlebag stole headlines last summer – happened entirely by chance.
After Jones (famously obsessed with Japan) saw Sorayama’s work on exhibit in a Tokyo gallery, he visited the artist’s studio to propose a collab on the spot. “I describe my collaboration with Kim as two weirdos having fun,” Sorayama told Artnet. “Kim has a great artistic vision. As a creative myself, I could see this from the beginning.”
Dior x Daniel Arsham
After collaborating with KAWS and Sorayama, Jones called on New York sculptor (and Ronnie Fieg-adjacent cool guy) Daniel Arsham to design the set (and some pieces for) the Spring 2020 Menswear show in June this year.
Like the Dior collection he helped spotlight, Arsham’s “Future Relics” series straddles lines between old luxury and the new. His sculptures are feats of skill and vision. They also, at times, seem too IG-friendly to be real. But, as co-founder of pioneering design firm Snarkitecture, perhaps that’s just Arsham bringing the moment to life.
Dior x Shawn Stussy
Which brings us to the present.
Stussy is the original graphic tee streetwear brand. Long before LV sent Supreme a cease and desist, and way before Jones brought the two together, Shawn Stussy’s signature (and a famous Chanel logo rip) was the coolest shit around. James Jebbia, the founder of Supreme, literally managed Stussy NY before starting his own shop.
Kim Jones is a lot of things, too. A rave kid. A weirdo. A Japanophile. A gallery fiend. Hype-aware. Kanye-adjacent. Oh yeah, and in case you forgot, the guy behind Louis Vuitton x Supreme.
Jones is a '90s cool kid who grew up to be one of the world’s premier designers, who is mixing and remixing the things he grew up on with the crew he grew up with – with all the resources in the world. Some call it “making cool shit.” Others call it “a revolution in luxury fashion.”
Let’s just call it the new normal.