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Following his much-praised pre-fall menswear collection for Dior, presented in Tokyo around a 39-foot sculpture of a robot conceived by Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama, this month, British menswear designer Kim Jones was awarded the inaugural Trailblazer Award by the British Fashion Council, marking not only his recent transformation of Dior menswear but the pioneering vision he has demonstrated throughout his career.

Jones has worked with a number of eminent fashion brands over the years, including Dunhill, Mulberry, Alexander McQueen, Hugo Boss, and perhaps most notably, Louis Vuitton. The celebrated designer has received numerous accolades throughout his career, including ‘Menswear Designer of the Year’ by the British Fashion Council in 2009 and 2011, and two consecutive ‘Topshop New Generation’ awards. Having spent his formative years travelling with family around Africa and the Amazon, Jones returned to London in his late teens, attending Central Saint Martins to pursue his undergraduate degree.

In 2002, John Galliano acquired the bourgeoning designer’s graduate collection, and shortly after Jones launched his eponymous label. Showing at London Fashion Week in 2003, he rapidly garnered a reputation as an innovator for his contemporary streetwear inspired aesthetic. Jones designed for his label for eight seasons, debuting at Paris Fashion Week in 2004, before dissolving the company to take up the creative directorship at Dunhill. During this period, Jones also worked as a stylist and art director for magazines such as Dazed & Confused, Pop, Fantastic Man and T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and published a book with the late photographer Luke Smalley.

After Dunhill, when Jones started as the Artistic Director of menswear at Louis Vuitton in 2011, the world of men’s fashion was a very different place to today. The notion that sportswear could be considered high fashion seemed preposterous but Jones played a critical role in changing that. For his first collection for Louis Vuitton, shown in Paris in June 2011, the designer filled his runway with luxury interpretations of tennis shoes, tube socks, running sneakers, bomber jackets and backpacks. In the consequent seasons, Jones produced a series of collaborations with Nike, making the trainer category one of the highest performing in the house’s portfolio. He went onto partner with streetwear label Supreme for AW17, creating one of the most in-demand fashion collections to date.

Seven years later, it’s near impossible to see a fashion show that doesn’t include some kind of trainer, hoodie or luxury backpack. At Dior, Jones has not only taken the fashion marketplace’s appetite for brand collaborations one step further by bringing Yoon of Ambush in house to design Dior’s menswear jewellery, and Matthew Williams of Alyx to design his seatbelt fastenings, but he has translated the house’s longstanding traditions into adaptable and modern sartorialism. By instilling his collections with the work of the couture ateliers, he has created a distinct new vision of couture menswear, simultaneously classic and era appropriate.

 

On Dior’s collaborations with artists:

“I’m working with artists because Christian Dior was a gallerist before he was a couturier. He worked with the leading artists of his time, like Salvador Dalí and Picasso, so I looked to what the modern generation’s take on that would be, hence starting with Kaws and now Hajime Sorayama.” – Vogue, 2018

 

On travelling and nature:

“Travel has always been a very important part of my life. I was brought up in Kenya, thanks to my father’s work as a hydrogeologist, and his career took us all over the world. When I was three months old we went to Ecuador; later we travelled through Ethiopia and Botswana. We stayed all over Africa and that experience has remained with me. It instilled in me a love of nature and wildlife – I’m passionate about conservation – and that underpins a lot of my excursions. With Africa, there’s just so much to take in. The space, the people, the striking contrast between places. When you’re five years old and seeing amazing animals in the wild on the plains of Kenya it stays with you. David Attenborough is one of my heroes; he was in my mind when I created my first collection for Louis Vuitton in 2011, which was influenced by Africa.” – The Telegraph, 2018

 

On managing a team:

“We work together as a team and we look at things together as a team. I make sure people on my team share my experiences and see what I do and then come to me with ideas as well. I am open to that. I think it’s important to keep the dynamic of the team at that level in order to keep everyone inspired but also happy obviously.” – Hypebeast, 2018

 

Feature image: Dior Men’s Pre-Fall 2019 Show in Tokyo (via Pinterest)

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