I’m looking forward to: partying in the city where the heat is on.
I’m talking about: going all night on the beach till the break of dawn. I’m going to Miami.
After a 24-hour flight, I check in and they greet me: “Welcome to Miami.”
Having never set foot in the state of Florida, all my preconceived notions about Miami were, rightly or wrongly, based on Will Smith’s 1997 hit track, ‘Miami’. Expectation: men wearing acid green silk shirts with white Bermuda shorts on South Beach. Reality: men wearing striped kaftans with white double-breasted blazers in a museum.
Okay, so it was one man, and that one man was me. I also wore an oversized straw hat for good measure, taking in artworks by Keith Haring, Jeff Koons and an infinity room by Yayoi Kusama on the opening night of Rubell Museum—the new space by long-time art collectors, and Miami residents, Don and Mera Rubell. It may be the eve of Art Basel Miami 2020, but I’m not in Miami for the art. Well, at least, not in the classic sense.
Artistic director Kim Jones has assembled the international menswear crowd in Miami to witness his latest collection for Dior Men—his second standalone ‘pre-autumn’ show following his highly successful pre-autumn 2019 drop that he unveiled in Tokyo a year prior. And while he collaborated with Hajime Sorayama for that Tokyo show, creating a stable of futuristic apparel and accessories (how can we forget that metallic Saddle bag?) inflected with the Japanese artist’s signature android aesthetic, Miami with its tropical weather and feel-good beach vibes, presented a new partner: surfing icon and design legend, Shawn Stussy.
Naturally, the social media channels were ablaze with expectation. Not only because of the Dior collaboration with Stussy, but the teaser post by Jones of a special new shoe to be unveiled in Miami: a collaboration with the Jordan Brand (as opposed to Nike) for a new Air Jordan 1 sneaker—otherwise known as #AirDior.
Held inside an expansive warehouse adjacent to Rubell Museum, 1,500-plus guests were seated inside a runway shaped like a barrel wave plastered with Stussy’s graffiti-style tags of the word ‘Dior’, all set against a technicolour backdrop of sunset hues. And the museum itself? It served as the show’s after-party venue as a nod to designer Christian Dior’s previous vocation as a gallerist.
While the Dior Tokyo show with Sorayama was a clever fusion of East meets West, intersecting craft with technology, the past by way of the future, the Dior Miami show was a jubilant clash of French tailoring savoir-faire with the joie de vivre of American surfing culture. It was light rather than dark, fun rather than serious, and in essence, a psychedelic joyride of colour instead of a studied procession of monochromatic suits.
Jones’s now-iconic single-button slash jackets were shown with floral appliqué on the lapels in hibiscus red, pacific blues, saffron and pastel shades—an electric colour palette reflective of the art deco architecture of Miami—while the heritage Dior oblique print was applied to knit sweaters and oversized totes, set against python leather trousers and shorts, and routinely capped off with French berets or bob hats emblazoned with the geometric prints created by Stussy.
In a collection awash with so much colour and contrast, the looks that stood out were usually the more reserved: that cream tee with the slogan, ‘I want to shock the world with Dior’, paired with ivory trousers; those silk shirts covered in Stussy’s new ‘Dior’ motif accessorised with a loosely knotted knit tie, all worn under classic topcoats crafted from light tropical wool; or, my favourite, that weekend ease of wearing an azure blue knit hoodie featuring a tutti-frutti intarsia floral motif worn languidly over pearl-white Bermudas. Bermuda shorts? Yup, the Will Smith effect is real.
White Bermudas aside, the easiest way to buy into the #DiorMiami world is to nab yourself one of those bob hats inspired by sailing headgear created by long-time milliner for Dior, Stephen Jones. Think of them as an elevated, and strikingly vibrant, version of a bucket hat that also bears Stussy’s new ‘Dior’ logo. Not a hat person? Try one of those insulated stainless steel water bottles seen on the runway bearing the same Stussy graffiti treatment for a functional, yet oh-so-covetable, accessory.
Of course, if you’re a hypebeast, then there’s no overlooking the limited-edition Air Dior high-tops made in Italy from supple Italian leather with hand-painted edges, a Dior Oblique jacquard swoosh, and transparent soles featuring Air Dior wings and Dior logos. When I had the chance to hold a pair in my hands (in my very hands!), let me tell you, they are surprisingly light and, here’s a little known detail, when you lift up the inner sole, there is a piece of natural leather—embossed with the Dior oblique pattern—that’s handstitched into the base. It’s the Dior equivalent of an artist still painting the hidden parts of a church ceiling. No one might ever know, but God knows. Or in this case, Jones knows. Talk about hidden craftsmanship.
For the fashion fluent reader, you’ll be aware that Kim Jones also unveiled a low-top version of the Air Diors at his winter 2020 Dior Men’s show in Paris this past January. What’s the difference between the two shoes? Well, besides the obvious fact that the Dior Miami sneaker is a high-top and his winter 2020 version is a low-top, stitched inside the mouth of the high-top is a black leather tab embossed with the word ‘Miami’ in silver, while the low-top version has a corresponding black leather tab with the word ‘Paris’.
So, the question is: should you go high or low? Well, the low- top Paris Air Diors are more flattering for guys with more robust legs (read: muscular legs and thick calves), while the Miami high- tops are better suited for those with slender model-esque legs (translation: if you’re confidently rocking shorts daily, then go for the Miami Air Diors). But whether you buy the Air Diors to wear (they’ll go with everything from a suit to those look-at-me python shorts) or as another holy grail to add to your collection (resell prices are guaranteed to be sky-high, more so for the Miami Air Diors since it was the first model to be unveiled), it will be worth the investment. That is if you manage to cop a pair, of course.
However, for a savvy purchase that will continue to reap returns long after the hype has faded, we’re recommending that pared-down iteration of the cross-body Saddle bag in green python. It had the front row—a veritable who’s who that included Ricky Martin and Kim Kardashian to Travis Scott and David Beckham—doing a double-take for its ability to punch up any outfit with its slick sophistication.
While the Dior Tokyo after-party had Diplo spinning under a 12m-tall Sorayama female robot—illuminated by hypnotic laser lights—the Dior Miami outing had A-Trak on the decks, and the country’s new shooting star, the fringe-masked Orville Peck, under a Miami night sky lit up with fireworks blasting off the rooftop of the yellow show venue covered in Stussy’s ‘Dior’ lettering. Hands down, Dior knows how to throw a good party.
Guests were also given a first look at the adjacent Rubell Museum after the show. Which brings us back to me standing inside that said museum—with its extensive collection of modern art—dressed in a kaftan, yes, but more importantly, contemplating the age-old question: is fashion art?
Fashion certainly incorporates artistic work—be it the meticulous couture handiwork of Dior’s ateliers or dynamic motifs created by Stussy—but does it move the audience as art does? Is fashion a form of art we wear or is it merely leveraging off art as a means to sell more product? If art is created through the combination of hand, head and heart, then what’s the difference with fashion?
Surely Kim Jones and Stussy thoughtfully conceived a collection that was not only artfully executed by Dior’s artisans, but intended to spark conversation on the current and future state of menswear and, in turn, create desire. But whatever your inclination, one thing’s for sure: Dior Miami, like any work of art, isn’t for everybody. One needs a discerning eye to fully master its mélange of Stussy’s technicolour script, Dior’s archival prints and Kim Jones’s new silhouettes. Get it wrong and it’s a wipeout. But get it right, and like Smith, you’ll enjoy a smooth glassy ride. Bienvenidos a Miami.