The Dior Men’s Campaign Is Inspired By Ghanaian Artist Amoako Boafo Shot At His Studio In Accra And In London
The electric acclaim Kim Jones has brought to Dior Men since he took the reins in 2018 has centered on the buzzy atmosphere of large-scale runway shows—six of them, already, in two years. Needless to say, with runway congregations ruled out, everything’s very different in the summer of 2020, but that didn’t prevent today’s collaboration between Jones and the 36-year-old Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo, whose stunning huge-scale portraits of Black subjects—partly richly finger-painted—have a skyrocketing reputation in the contemporary art world. “It’s a portrait of an artist who I greatly admire,” Jones said. “[The gallerist] Mera Rubell introduced me to Amoako last year in Miami. I really loved his work and wanted to work with him because of my own links to Africa. He lives between Vienna, where he studied, Ghana, and Chicago. So we sat down and discussed.”
The first results—a collection fusing Boafo’s art with Dior artisanship, a look book, and a documentary film shot at the artist’s studio in Accra and at Jones’ home in London—are launched in a more intimate, in-depth, and, dare we say, intelligent way than could possibly have come across in front of the usual roar of the crowd and show hustle of the Paris collections. One of the unexpected upsides of the enforced break from fashion-as-usual is watching how communication is suddenly transitioning from image to information—from silent screen to talkies. That’s a breakthrough.
The collection is smaller and more edited than it would have been. Jones was working out of his Notting Hill house with a small team and long-distance with Dior ateliers in France to get it done over the past months. The result: clothes saturated with uplifting color and print, which pinpoint Boafo’s signatures within the language the designer has established for Dior Men. Later in the video Jones is interviewed on camera in his home studio, speaking about how a visual connection gelled when he saw Boafo’s portrait of a boy in a green beret and an ivy-print shirt: “Ivy was one of Monsieur Dior’s symbols.”
The initiative will consist of a building that will host Boafo’s studio, a residence, and an artist-run gallery, supporting young artists in Ghana and their studio practice. “The change needed right now is to support young people through college and training to give everyone equal opportunities,” Jones said. The focus of this project is close to his heart, and, he says, to part of his own upbringing as the son of a hydrogeologist who worked throughout the continent. “We moved to Ethiopia when I was around three years old, spent time living there, and then moved around east Africa and then Botswana. I’ve kept going back for the rest of my life.”
Underlying his motivation—using Dior’s fashion broadcasting capabilities to enlighten a broad audience about the vitality of contemporary African art, as well as facilitating a project with cash—is a quieter salute to Jones’s father, who recently passed away. “The fact that we are working with Amoako Boafo, from Ghana, which was one of my father’s favorite African countries is,” he said, “a fitting tribute to the man who introduced me to Africa and the world.”