When a design is as revered as the Dior Saddle, any attempts at refreshing its look could be potentially contentious. But Dior Men artistic director Kim Jones is not one to stay on the side of convention. After all, this is the man who has been tapping into the House’s more feminine-centric haute couture history to build and expand its menswear universe. And with the Dior Saddle, Jones continues to revisit the fundamentals of its design and to transmute them into inspired accessories.
The Dior Saddle bag was first conceived more than two decades ago by former artistic director John Galliano. It’s essentially a shoulder purse, meant to be worn tight right in the armpit with its short top handle sitting on one’s—typically a woman’s—shoulder. It wasn’t until Jones’ debut collection for Dior Men that the bag was officially de-genderised. The top handle strap was replaced by a more industrial-looking adjustable one that adapts for crossbody wear and differentiated from its women’s counterpart by a Matthew M. Williams-designed buckle.
If the Saddle bag designed for men captures a more defiant spirit from the original, the latest inspired creation refines the look further. For the Dior Men winter 2023 collection, Jones opts to pay tribute to the elegance of the equestrian world—the origins of the Saddle bag.
The Dior Saddle Boxy bag looks more simplified from the outside. The leather tails attached to the magnetic flap of the original have been removed altogether for a more graphic focus on the curved lines of the bag. With this new iteration, what you’re getting is pretty much a storage upgrade—the Dior Saddle Boxy features an extended body acting as the main compartment topped with a zipper. The original Dior Saddle silhouette then becomes the bag’s smaller front compartment. The dimensions of the Dior Saddle Boxy are about the same as the Dior Saddle but now divided into two compartments for better organisation.
Instead of grained calfskin, the Dior Saddle Boxy is dressed in the house’s new Dior Oblique Gravity leather. Not only is the entire body embossed with the signature Dior Oblique motif, it’s also done in a cloudy effect that is further emphasised through the patent treatment. The straps—a top handle as well as an adjustable shoulder strap that are both detachable—have too been refined. They’re cut from leather and are intentionally thin in width to reflect the more elegant profile.
Regard this latest take as the more grown up, elevated version—one you could easily pair with a suit without feeling as though you’re making the entire outfit a touch more casual. The look of the Dior Saddle Boxy may be a slight departure from the original, yet the functionality and versatility remain. And that’s exactly how you rework an icon.
The Dior Saddle Boxy is now available in boutiques and online.
It would have been easy to make his fifth anniversary as artistic director of Dior Men all about him. And it would've been justifiable too, seeing how Kim Jones has continuously crafted collection after collection of menswear offerings while tapping into Dior's archives and haute couture sensibilities. Jones' inclination to collaborate with other brands, designers, and artists have also helped widened Dior Men's reach.
Yet, the Dior Men spring/summer 2024 collection was far from an ego trip.
True to form, Jones once again referenced Dior's storied history. "Dior is an haute couture house: it is all about the clothes. At the heart of Dior is silhouette, shape, technique and fabrication of the very highest order," says Jones in the collection notes. "It's a culture we have inherited from womenswear past and applied to menswear present. And for the first time in our collections, it is a collage of influences from different Dior predecessors and eras we wanted to pay tribute to at once—together with some of our own. All are connected through texture and technique alongside some of the Dior pop icons, particularly the Cannage."
The show's staging seemed to suggest—on his fifth anniversary no less; a feat that not many can claim in fashion nowadays—that Jones was leaving it all out in the open. The entirety of the collection's 51 looks ascended from below the tiled floor and models stood waiting for their turn to walk along the grid's perimeter. There was no pretence in the spring/summer 2024 collection—no surprises, just well executed designs that cemented the Dior Men canon he's crafted five years ago.
The fit: Jones referenced a quartet of the house's former creative heads for the Dior Men spring/summer 2024 collection. Yves Saint Laurent's silhouettes were the guiding principle in the collection's look, particularly in the effortless, sweeping tailoring brought about by trousers cropped slightly above the ankles and at times designed with pleats for added volume. The collection's defining piece, the cardigan, was casually draped over shoulders in multiple variations of Cannage tweeds, Gianfranco Ferré-inspired ornate embellishments as well as dripping cabochons—the latter a Monsieur Dior nod.
Marc Bohan's play of textures informed the tactile elements of the collection. Tweed was the main vehicle used across a variety of pieces, expanding its use from just the traditional. It was seen on everything from summer-appropriate vests to all manner of the collection's bags and accessories, especially the iconic Saddle.
The details: Loafers—tweed or otherwise—were stamped with a new circular Dior logo derived from the Lady Dior hardware. The logo appeared as buckles on a number of bags too. Sandwich bags crafted in a selection of the collection's key fabrications would most likely be the novelty accessory of the season, and was most beautifully executed in supple leather decorated with the Cannage motif. The eye-catching beanies seen on a number of models, incorporated ronghua right in the centre. These velvet flowers were crafted by master craftsmen in the trade who worked closely with the Dior ateliers.
Three exceptional looks: Look 7's stunning Cannage tweed coat in signature Dior grey and paired with a pop of bold colour in the form of a beanie; the tailoring in look 31 that incorporated a bowtie appliqué on a pocket of the three-buttoned blazer; and the closing look 51 that was dripping with cabochons paired with high-fluo pink.
The takeaway: Who needs a collaboration when the past offers so much inspiration and content to remix for the now?
View the full Dior Men spring/summer 2024 collection in the gallery below.
It was five years ago that artistic director Kim Jones presented his very first runway collection for Dior Men. The collection marked a turning point for the house's menswear universe with Jones adapting Christian Dior's women-centric creations and haute couture techniques for men. And of course, it heralded a time of collaborations with partners outside of the realm of fashion.
The Dior Men spring/summer 2024 runway show marks the fifth-year anniversary of Jone at the house. Offering a teaser into what the collection could look like, the house invited Australian actor Felix Mallard—of Netflix's Ginny & Georgia fame—into some of the archival inspirations that Jones were taken by. Cabochon jewellery as well as tweed, for example, look to be key elements of the collection.
If Jones is looking to emulate the kind of collaborative successes that he's introduced for Dior Men since the beginning of his tenure, we may also see one for spring/summer 2024.
Watch the Dior Men spring/summer 2024 runway show here live from Paris Fashion Week Men's.
What: Dior Men spring/summer 2024 runway show
Where: Paris, France
When: Friday, 23 June 2023 at 9pm Singapore time