When Sotheby’s called upon the Dior menswear designer Kim Jones to select works of art from the auction house’s Contemporary Curated sale, Jones found he was qualified in a number of ways. First, there was a spiritual precedent: Christian Dior himself worked as a gallerist before he was a couturier. Second, Jones is an avid art collector in his own right.
On Wednesday night in New York, Jones stood inside Sotheby’s, surrounded by friends who’d come to celebrate his participation in the March sale, mulling the way he’d curate yet another show.
“If I could choose pieces from my own collection to put up, it would be my Bloomsbury collection,” Jones said, referencing the early-1900s art collective that included Roger Fry and Duncan Grant. “I have quite a big Bloomsbury collection, ranging from books to artworks. I’ve got books like Orlando, by Virginia Woolf—I have a copy that was Vita Sackville-West’s, and I also have one that was Vanessa Bell’s copy, so, the two most important women in Woolf’s life. I think that together, in an exhibition, that could be quite interesting.”
For his actual collaboration with Sotheby’s, Jones picked pieces by David Hockney, Cindy Sherman, George Condo (whose art recently popped up on the streets of Paris courtesy of one Kim Kardashian West), and the Dior collaborators Raymond Pettibon and KAWS, a contemporary of Jones's who roamed the gallery during cocktail hour wearing his signature black baseball cap.
“With KAWS, we’re similar ages, so we grew up in a parallel,” Jones said. “But Raymond, I used to have T-shirts with his designs on them as a kid. He has always been stuck in my mind. To be able to work with his work and then to really embellish it—he loved how we treated the art [Untitled, Eleven Works], and to me, that was the biggest compliment.”
To prepare for this undertaking, Jones did some homework on Christian Dior’s role in the art world. He searched through the brand’s archives and visited the late designer’s former houses, which are still filled with the pieces of art he collected.
“But I don’t go too in depth, because I want to find something each new time I go back in,” Jones added.
The Dior menswear designer is currently working on the fall 2020 collection, and did not bend to requests for hints on inspiration. He remained especially mum when asked which artist, living or dead, he’d collaborate with on a Dior collection.
“I can’t tell you, because I might do it. That’s the thing, I’ve got it all planned out,” he said. “I can’t talk about things in the future.”
After the doors to Sotheby’s closed, Jones and his friends, including Karlie Kloss, Marc Jacobs, Ryan McGinley, Evan Mock, and James Turlington, headed to Indochine for dinner. At the bar, KAWS cradled a red wine, while Jacobs (who wore a black and white Prada coat and had his fingernails painted red), chatted with McGinley. Turlington and Mock, meantime, compared notes on who they thought was the best skater in 2020.
It’s worth noting the guests at Jones’s table crossed multiple disciplines. That's pretty typical of the fashion industry, Jones said, whose participants have long intertwined with artists, musicians, and businesspeople. If anyone's paying special attention to cultural crossover at this moment in time, it's because of the way connectivity has contributed to how people communicate, and approach their work.
“I think now, people are looking at culture as more than one thing,” Jones said. “And I think all the people who are really succeeding in fashion are looking at things outside of fashion. People want to relate. If they don’t relate to it, they don’t understand it. And in the modern eye, people are flicking through social media. If they see something that grabs them, then they’ll go and look at it. But if there’s nothing that grabs them instantly, then it’s not going to be relevant.”