The Dior Men spring 2023 runway show was artistic director Kim Jones’s second in the United States of America since assuming the role at Dior Men. And perhaps to some extent, it’s a calculated, formulaic move.
Jones brought the Dior Men fall 2020 show out to Miami and it was there that the still coveted collaboration between Dior Men and Nike first made its debut. Fast forward to over two years later, and it was another beach — Venice Beach to be exact — that became the backdrop to another collaborative effort; American brand ERL.
While Air Dior was kept under wraps until the show, the Dior Men spring 2023 capsule collection guest designed by ERL wasn’t. It makes sense — as compared to Nike, ERL isn’t as well-established despite its co-signs by some of the most stylish men in the game. Yet, if I were to compare it to the fall 2020 collection (it’s difficult not to given the similarity in the sort of skate culture that both locales share), the Dior Men spring 2023 collection felt more focused and intrinsically Dior, even with ERL’s flourishes.
The show opened with a Dior grey look — a tailored suit in the kind of relaxed fit that Jones favours but slightly padded. Eli Russell Linnetz of ERL mentioned former Dior artistic director Gianfranco Ferré as an inspiration in the collection notes (“We started looking at the Dior archive from the year of my birth, 1991,” he says) and the spring 2023 padded constructions were a nod to Ferré’s time at Dior. Padding and quilting too just so happen to be some of what ERL has grown to be known for.
The main Dior thread of choice throughout the collection was the Dior Cannage. On padded outerwear, the Cannage was blown up and interpreted through quilting; Cannage trousers were crafted using tinsel as a way of highlighting the pattern; the collection’s Dior-ised skate shoes featured the Cannage on their uppers; and even the Saddle bag was reinterpreted in the aforementioned quilted Cannage.
But perhaps the most distinctive ERL element in the entire Dior Men spring 2023 collection was look 34’s red opera cape. Quite carelessly dragged across the runway, the cape was made out of a patchwork of plaid shirting as well as sports jerseys. And while it looked different from A$AP Rocky’s version that was worn during the 2021 Met Gala, it definitely felt like a nod to the moment that brought ERL into mainstream consciousness.
‘California Couture’ was splashed across knit jumpers in tinsel — a choice that immediately reminded me of ugly Christmas jumpers, and I’m certain the collection would be out in boutiques by then in time for the holidays. The term itself was a playful nod to just how seamless the collection looked. There was no uncomfortable tension that could’ve been the result of the disparate aesthetics between Dior Men and ERL. Everything felt and looked quite natural (except maybe the hardware that recalled Gucci’s Hacker Project with Balenciaga) but not necessarily what was expected of a collaboration between the two.
It would be remiss of me to not highlight the reworked Saddle bags. I appreciate that the iconic silhouette was pretty much the bag du jour of the entire collection and the new variations — including thoroughly tinsel-covered versions in a couple of different sizes, as well as quilted Cannage ones — are hands down some of the best of late.
If the Dior Men spring 2023 collection seemed formulaic, let’s just say, it’s one that certainly worked. And with aesthetically better results too.
View the full Dior Men spring 2023 collection in the gallery below.