Monday, 13 May 2013

Backstage at Beijing's Dior Homme Show

On April 26, Dior Homme held its first-ever fashion show outside of Paris, and the spot chosen by Kris Van Assche for this one-off event was Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts museum. The organic, airy building with curved walls hosted 600 guests, including a long list of Chinese celebrities (from media mogul Hung Huang to “China’s number-one heartthrob” actor Huang Xiaoming) sporting a studied air of effortless elegance. “After having staged some events in Shanghai, Beijing seemed like the logical next step”, Van Assche said. “I love the momentum of China, and how people in this city pay a lot of attention to the way they look.”

The show was a reprisal of Dior Homme’s A/W13 show which debuted last January in Paris. Half of the impeccably groomed models were cast locally and three new looks (which according to the designer will only be available in China) were added to the show. Drawing inspiration from 1997’s film Gattaca, Van Assche created a rigorous collection with a futuristic edge (“clothes for tomorrow”) leaning on technical fabrics and functional details like safety belts and jackets equipped with zips instead of buttons. “I have been very inspired by sport and the notion of a healthy mind in a healthy body lately, that’s why I took Gattaca as the starting point for the collection. From there I worked to achieve an athletic silhouette, lean yet virile, following the masculine anatomy in the cut of the clothes.”

In their austere, waist-belted black suits and tightly combed-back hair, the models were the embodiment of inexorable physical perfection as they marched down the catwalk. The show was a cavalcade of high energy, with the added excitement of a black bat flying into the room and twirling around over the models’ heads, in what many guests thought to be a deliberate performance. After the show, a gig by synth-pop duo Hurts (dressed head-to-toe in Dior Homme, naturally) got the crowd dancing. “I think they are a great representation of contemporary dandyism”, said a relaxed Van Assche as models challenged the crowd to a dance-off, beginning what would be an all-night after party.

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