Kim Jones, the creative director for Dior Men, could not have asked for a more perfect backdrop to showcase the fashion house’s Celestial autumn 2023 menswear collection.
In some ways, the Pyramids of Giza stole the show on Saturday. The ancient wonders illuminated against the night sky evoked a sense of otherworldliness as 75 models walked the LED-lit runway to thumping techno music.
But the designs held their own as well, capping off a year that celebrated the 75th anniversary of the world-renowned French brand.
The Celestial collection and show were inspired by a “fascination with the ancient world” and “how the past shapes the future or an idea of the future from the past”, Jones writes in the show notes.
His interest in ancient Egypt is “about the stars and the sky”, he says, and the collection and show both have the idea of being “guided by the stars”.
He notes that Christian Dior tripped over a literal star on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore in Paris in 1946, and he took it as a sign to start his own haute couture house.
This year’s autumn/winter 2022 menswear show took place on January 21 to coincide with Dior’s birthday. Jones transformed Parisian bridge Pont Alexandre III into a podium to symbolise the linkages between past, present and future.
The Dior men’s spring/summer 2023 show at Paris Fashion Week in June recreated the seaside town of Granville in Normandy — Dior’s birthplace — and the English countryside of Charleston to pay homage to late British painter Duncan Grant.
Jones unveiled two collections in Cairo this week, the first being the Dior x Denim Tears line at an event at the Grand Egyptian Museum on Friday. The museum, adjacent to the pyramids, partially opened for private events this month but has yet to open to the public.
The capsule collection was guest-designed by Tremaine Emory, creative director of sportswear label Denim Tears.
The line gave a taste of Jones’s signature of meshing sportswear with luxury through collaborations, such as Air Dior, since taking the helm of Dior Men in 2018.
While both the Dior x Denim Tears and Celestial shows did not have the star power that follows fashion capitals such as London, Milan and Paris, several notable celebrities and influencers were in attendance.
Among them was British supermodel Naomi Campbell, who said she was “happy because Egypt for me is part of Africa. And so this is a big deal that Dior and Kim Jones have chosen to be here.”
South Korean singer, actor and model Cha Eun-woo arrived at Cairo airport to fans chanting his name.
“I was so surprised,” the K-pop star, with more than 31 million Instagram followers, told The National at the Celestial show on Saturday.
Wearing a sparkly turquoise sweater with matching bag, he said he was “glad” for the attention and “very excited” as it is his first time in Egypt.
Other international celebrities included Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, British actor Robert Pattinson, Scottish actor Thomas Doherty, South Korean rapper and Dior Global Ambassador Oh Se-hun, Spanish actor Aron Piper, Colombian singer Manuel Turizo and American model Amber Valletta.
Stars from the region included Tunisian actor and filmmaker Dhafer L’Abidine, Egyptian actor Amr Youssef and Egyptian-Canadian Aladdin actor Mena Massoud.
“It’s a very iconic moment, I feel, for the brand, being here in the Middle East and doing a show this large-scale,” Qatari influencer Abdulla Al Abdulla, the founder of his namesake skincare and fragrances brand, told The National.
The 25-minute fashion show kicked off shortly after 6pm in darkness and silence before the pyramids and runway lit up. The models paraded the collection, walking in the distance like shadows before passing directly in front of spectators.
The colours began as neutral greys, beiges and whites before pops of bright yellow and orange were added. Jones calls it a “graduation of greys” giving way to the “palette of the desert — from daytime to nightfall, with hints of a fiery sunset filtering in between”.
One gets the impression that the models are going on a sci-fi expedition to the moon or “galaxies far, far away”. They wore sunglasses, helmets, backpacks, utility boots and mosquito netting, taking on a “notion of futuristic armoury”.
The distinction between masculine and feminine cuts are blurred, such as in the case of the wool demi-kilts that flowed at the back of trousers. The concept originated from the bias pleated skirt of a Dior archival dress from the 1950s called bonne fortune.
Technical outerwear is married with couture finishings, and “comfort and practicality” are given priority as “the ultimate luxuries”.
For the grand finale, all 75 models made one last pass by the audience before standing in a line in front of the pyramids and leaving the stage.
In an odd juxtaposition to the previous techno beats, a live orchestra then played a 35-minute set of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons by contemporary classical composer Max Richter. Colourful lasers and floodlights lit up the scene and the ancient wonders remained at the centre of attention.
Egypt has taken the opportunity to boost tourism recently by widening its appeal through art and cultural events.
In October, fashion house Stefano Ricci celebrated its 50th anniversary by showcasing its collection at the Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor.
Last month, Art D’Egypte put on its second Forever is Now contemporary art exhibition at the pyramids and Dior was a gold sponsor.
Egyptian government figures at Dior’s Celestial show included Secretary General of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities Mostafa Waziri, Minister of International Co-operation Rania Al-Mashat and prominent Egyptologist Zahi Hawass.
Before the show, Waziri took the Dior team to the Saqqara Pyramid and posted about the visit on his Instagram account.
The goal is undoubtedly to create global ambassadors for the “Egypt” brand.
French singer Orelsan, who has worked with Dior over the past year on his concert outfits, had positive things to say about his first time visiting the country.
“It’s really magical and I feel really lucky to be here,” he told The National. “I want to come back, so I hope that other people feel the same.”
The pyramids will be waiting.