The Dior Men’s Fall 2022 runway show that took place on December 9 was one part presentation, one part exhibition. In the back of Olympia London, a hangar-like event venue in the posh Kensington neighborhood, guests pushed aside a heavy black curtain to reveal a dark room filled with glass cases containing rare manuscripts and first edition copies of texts written by famed beat poets and authors: Allen Ginsberg’s Empty Mirror was there, alongside Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums with the writer’s own penciled-in annotations, plus a portion of of Odyssey he typed up on U.S. Army stationary during his brief stint in the military.
Designer Kim Jones had been dropping not-so-subtle hints about the inspiration for his collection in the days leading up to its reveal, sending out copies of On the Road and decorating leather pouches with imagery from the Visions of Cody book jacket. So it came as no surprise that the runway show featured tons of references to Kerouac. The only surprising part of the evening was just how much of an extravaganza the show ended up being—but this is, after all, Dior, a brand known to do it up whenever given the opportunity.
This time around, that meant playing host to hundreds of guests in London, including Naomi Campbell, Lila Moss, Sam Smith, Common, Luca Guadagnino, and Natalia Dyer and Charlie Heaton, all of whom sat front row to take in the show on Thursday evening. (Jones also paid tribute to Virgil Abloh with a small placard placed upon each seat that read “To Virgil, with love forever.”) Campbell, who appeared at the 11th hour wearing sunglasses, a black mask, and a cream-colored suit, immediately engaged in a close conversation with Kate Moss’s partner, the photographer Nikolai von Bismarck. Lila Moss, who wore a powder blue silk pajama set, took selfies with some friends sitting in the row behind her. The rapper Slowthai stuck out his tongue for photographers while Common chatted merrily with Peaky Blinders actor Finn Cole.
Naomi Campbell, Slowthai, Paapa Essiedu, Luca Guadagnino, Lila Moss, and Common.
The stars were certainly out in full force, but the focus of the evening was the fashion itself: Models wore hiking-inspired outdoor gear and typically English wool car coats and cropped trousers and walked down a runway that was covered by an enormous scroll bearing the writings of Kerouac, while the voice of Kerouac read bits of On the Road over the speakers. Thick-soled brogues were paired with patterned, multicolored socks; ties came in skinny and skinnier-still varieties, and oversized puffer vests covered striped sweaters. The knits, along with some matching beanies, were covered in diamanté paillettes to give the guys some sparkle. Jones also debuted a few new satchels—including a bean-shaped wristlet and minibag—that would look great on anyone.
Immediately after the show ended, the lights came up and a fleet of servers holding trays of wine emerged in a straight line. Although most of the crowd headed straight for the DJ booth to dance along to Diana Ross’s “The Boss,” a few returned to the exhibition space behind the heavy curtain. According to a description on the wall, all of the pieces featured—of which there are at least 40—came from Jones’s personal collection. The designer is known to be a bibliophile, but this archive was stunning. A particular favorite: a copy of The Subterraneans that Kerouac gifted to the British actor Charles Laughton. Laughton, who read The Dharma Bums aloud on his record The Story Teller, closed his recitation of the novel by quipping, “Now that isn’t bad for a man who's been called a Beatnik, is it?”