It is safe to say that Dior, under the creative direction of menswear artistic director, Kim Jones, is as much a luxury fashion brand as it is an artistically-inclined one. Only last year, it announced that its SS21 collection was created in collaboration with Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo. Now, its AW21 menswear collection, which debuted earlier this year, incorporates artworks from Scottish-born, Trinidad-based painter, Peter Doig.
Jones’ artist collaborations have always gone beyond a supplied image splashed on a T-shirt. Since joining Dior three years ago, he has worked with a host of artists to create varied interpretations of the human figure. For this collection, he was fascinated with translating the surfaces of Doig’s paintings – rich in layers of pigment, oil skeins and drips of paint – into intricate fabrications.
“Peter brought in a series of amazing watercolours,” says Jones. “I thought they’d work really well in mohair, which would have the same sort of colour registration.”
Doig was instrumental in the design process, working more closely with Jones than any other artist to date, colour-matching swatches to his own pigments and even adorning several of the collection’s felt hats – crafted by his old college friend, the celebrated milliner Stephen Jones – with original artworks.
“Peter was in every single meeting and fitting,” says Jones. “He worked with every element of the Dior Studio. We’re still texting virtually every day, sending each other interesting things we’ve seen.” Adds Doig: “It was exciting and inspiring working within a team, rather than solo in my studio.”
The artist was struck by the connections between the French Maison and his own background. Doig had studied at Central Saint Martins in the 1980s with the milliner Stephen Jones, who has worked with Kim Jones for more than a decade and collaborated with Dior for double that time.
Doig was also intrigued to learn that Christian Dior was once a gallery director. Between 1929 and 1931, he and his business partner Pierre Colle presented some of France’s earliest exhibitions by Calder, Giacometti and Dalí. “I think it’s important to tell the whole story of Monsieur Dior’s life,” Jones explains. “It’s about looking at the people he would have been interested in today. [He] closely collaborated with Christian Bérard, and Peter is a collector of his work.”
The Dior x Peter Doig AW21 collection features a series of wide sportswear-inspired trousers, as well as bowler hats and berets, sported on the catwalk with ceremonial tailoring, smart peacoats and ribbed roll-necks. These have been handcrafted by Stephen Jones and hand-painted by Doig, with motifs inspired by Bérard, and they will be sold via private appointment.
“I’d initially only imagined an embellished badge or print,” Jones says. “I love the level of craftsmanship behind the pieces. Each hat really tells a story.”