The air felt thinner when I boarded the white Dior shuttle bus from the heart of Hong Kong Island to Shaw Studios - the film production site at the edge of the New Territories. All the better to be accompanied by Lana Del Ray’s “High By The Beach”, played on loop in preparation for the repeat show, previously shown in Paris in January, titled “The Art of Falling Apart”.
The mass hysteria about drugs was evident in the constant recurring lyrics of Westbam's "You Need The Drugs". I have no drug supplier named Cindy Ecstasy, though the title and music of the show were enough to prepare me for an experience - one full of 1980s synthpop, new wave and plaid. Suffice to say that the journey to the show was an experience itself.
Repeat shows aren’t new to the brand. Dior Homme has shown international runway shows in Beijing (2013), Shanghai (2014) and Guangzhou (2015). For womenswear, Dior has brought its line to Tokyo last June and Beijing last December. So Dior Homme’s natural movement to Hong Kong, following China’s major cities, was evident and an obvious guess for me since last Summer. (Note: I take full credit to every person I spoke to about this.)
The obvious question would lean towards the reason why everyone is here to see a show, that has been streamed online publicly months ago with close-ups and backstages photos released? First and foremost, it’s a marketing strategy, opening seats to press and clients who belong to large markets of the Far East: China, Japan, Korea. Those who didn’t or couldn’t make it to the January show in Paris. I, for myself, can put myself into this category and I strongly advocate being there in person - to embrace the whole experience, to get surrounded by the energy and, most importantly, to photograph.
Second to that, the fashion calendar is changing. It’s been an on-going debate on whether the current fashion week calendar should be revised to merge menswear and womenswear collections together. One that is definitely worth discussing about. More on that later.
Overall, the tactic is to translate the show to a different audience. There’s a common misconception about translation and explanation. The latter perhaps less relevant in the world of fashion because everyone can have their way of interpreting it, whether as product or art. Translation, on the other hand, takes its toll when the message doesn’t come through or, worse even, misinterpreted. And China needs this translation - its elite consumers can’t relate to the product by simply seeing it online; they need to be told what is new, why it came about and see it in front of them, or rather translated to them in a specific way, black and white. Along with the high competition in high fashion and constant departure/ arrival of creative directors, luxury brands need to educate the consumers and this repeat show was a fine example of this.
Without the research, I wouldn’t have known what the New Wave movement was about. It’s not something that existed in my culture, nor my era. So the thumping of Nitzer Ebb’s “Control I’m Here”, the fingerless gloves, black nail varnish and voluminous skater trousers weren't obvious to me. I simply don’t have the nostalgia of the movement Kris Van Assche had when he was 12.
Yet I saw the youth culture that was celebrated in the collection. It was a profound turnaround from last year’s hyperformal collection and a development into the contemporary man. The Dior Homme is ever-changing, ever-evolving. New wave, new man.
A lot of things were the same as the January show, as it was supposed to be: the bright red colours, the music, KVA. The models were casted to suit the particular demographic - a task that took five whole days for KVA to complete on his journey to Hong Kong. Again, consumers like to visualise their products on them without guessing. Techniques in embroidery have become more youthful with distressed patterns appearing on accessories and sporty with floral allover denim and puffy jackets. The show finished with a re-arrangement of the stage that flipped to become the stage of the up-and-coming French electronic group, Club Cheval, who hosted the afterparty.
The only thing needed is time for this crowd to understand and absorb, reflecting on the time the East needs to catch up with the West.
Same same, but different.
To be continued... #tbc