The streetwear authority contributes his famed lettering skills to the brand’s cool-weather styles
Words by ELIZABETH VARNELL
Shawn Stussy put pen to paper at the request of Kim Jones, artist director of Dior’s menswear collections, and the result is sure to spark a drawing frenzy much like the one launched nearly four decades ago in a little surf shop on Laguna Canyon Road. Stussy’s trademark lettering — initially created for his namesake brand, which is credited as an originator of modern streetwear — emblazons the French fashion house’s pre-fall collection of sweaters, beaded shirts and even Stephen Jones-crafted hats.
Besides a brief return to design under his S/Double label a few years ago, the new collaboration is the Stüssy brand founder’s most visible fashion foray since leaving his label in 1996. One look at the way he shapes D-I-O-R and it’s clear Stussy’s penmanship is as immediately identifiable as ever.
Art Basel Miami Beach proved the perfect setting for Dior’s latest hype-worthy alliance. Jones selected a repurposed space adjacent to the newly opened Rubell Museum in homage to Christian Dior’s initial vocation as a gallerist and also in tribute to Stussy. “I always considered Shawn an artist,” Jones says, citing the brand’s early appearances in The Face and i-D as “very strong graphic images that still remain, to youth and young people, an important legacy.”
Stussy’s album art for Malcolm McLaren and Big Audio Dynamite also comes to mind. Jones, who bought his first Stussy T-shirt at 14, wrapped the artist’s embrace of California surf culture into all aspects of their joint creative venture, from a host of vibrantly colorful ready-to-wear looks to the show’s mise-en-scène. “I designed the set myself,” Jones says. “I wanted to pay homage to Shawn’s love of surfing, so we’re on the beach going under the wave.”
Whether scrawled across the venue’s saffron-saturated outer walls, its wave-like Pacific blue interiors, or Bella Hadid’s co-opted menswear shirt-and-pants ensemble, Stussy’s bold broad-tip marker strokes lend a pedigreed authenticity to Jones’ latest offering. “They wanted the flavor of my art,” Stussy says. “We talked about a repeat pattern, but they were going to take it into the couture level of technical stuff.”
In Stussy’s hands, Dior’s reinvented logo takes a casual turn, yet Jones elevates the graffiti-inspired letters with beading, embroidery and an intricate jacquard created in double-faced cashmere. The result is the most interesting high-low juxtaposition since Jones’ 2017 collection with Supreme while helming Louis Vuitton menswear.
Taking up his craft for Dior has Stussy feeling reflective: “Coming back and doing this, in some weird way I feel I’m handing the torch off to the younger crowd,” he says.
Feature image: Looks from the DIOR men’s Pre-Fall 2020 collection. Photo by KRIS TAMBURELLO.
Dec. 11, 2019
Discover more STYLE news.