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  • The Dior men’s show will pay tribute to the painter of the Bloomsbury group Duncan Grant – WWD

The Dior men’s show will pay tribute to the painter of the Bloomsbury group Duncan Grant – WWD

By on June 24, 2022 0

PARIS – Kim Jones has expressed her admiration for British author Virginia Woolf, but her Spring 2023 menswear collection for Dior is inspired by another Bloomsbury Group member: painter Duncan Grant.

Jones grew up in Lewes in southern England, not far from Charleston, the farmhouse where Grant and fellow artist Vanessa Bell moved in 1916, making it the epicenter of their circle of writers, intellectuals, philosophers and artists.

“I first went to Charleston when I was 14. I had been struck by how modern they all were, each one of these individuals involved in Bloomsbury who were attached to Charleston. It was mainly the how they lived and worked in one place and the intensity of that connection,” Jones said in a statement.

“There are parallels with Mr. Dior – and I also discovered him around the same age,” he added.

Jones developed an impressive personal collection of signed and display copies of first-edition books associated with the group, including Hogarth Press Publishing – the publishing house founded by Woolf and her husband Leonard; objects produced by the design and furniture collective Omega Workshops, co-founded by Grant and Bell, and works of art by the two painters, among others.

In May, he took part in the Charleston Festival, talking about the role of art in his creative practice and the Bloomsbury Group’s continued influence on his work, in conversation with actress Demi Moore and photographer Nikolai von Bismarck.

Now Jones has teamed up with the Charleston Trust on his menswear collection, which is due to premiere on at 3 p.m. local time in Paris on Friday, marking the first time Grant’s work will be featured in a line of clothes.

Considered one of the major talents of his generation, the Post-Impressionist artist had a penchant for male nudes, and also experimented with textiles, ceramics and theatrical designs, murals, illustrations and more. Charleston recently held an exhibit of more than 400 of Grant’s erotic drawings, which she received as a donation in 2020.

“We have 10,000 works in our collection. And because of our confidence in her process and her commitment, we were very pleased to open our archives to Kim and her team,” Nathaniel Hepburn, director and chief executive of the Charleston Trust, told WWD. The designer had access to drawings that have never been seen publicly, in addition to sketchbooks.

“It’s a wonderful story for us about how our collection, the story of our artists and the work they produced 100 years ago, can inspire young people and creatives today. Kim visited Charleston as a young boy, and he was clearly overwhelmed by what he experienced in these art-filled halls,” Hepburn said.

“The Bloomsbury Group, Duncan Grant and his friends, lived a life where art was important in every aspect of their lives, and the rooms in Charleston are decorated and designed as a complete work of art that took them 60 years to create. It is now open to the public as a museum, and Kim has returned to the house often,” he added.

“He spends time there, continues to explore the collections, and I think it’s a real story of inspiration, of understanding what was so special about these artists who were very radical at the beginning. of the XXth century. He describes them as being like punks but with beauty,” Hepburn said.

Grant was particularly charismatic, as evidenced by a 1930s photograph of him sitting in the garden parlor in Charleston, wearing a wrinkled oversized suit, barefoot, shirtless and tieless – a bold look at the time. .

Duncan Grant in front of the Garden Room in Charleston, 1933-1935.
© The Charleston Trust

“Duncan Grant was very modern in his approach to clothing,” Hepburn said, noting that around 1970 the then 80-year-old artist was photographed wearing a tracksuit and a straw hat. “He was carefree and experimental, and he would certainly have stood out from his contemporaries.”

Additionally, Jones discovered that Grant and the famously superstitious Dior shared the same birthday, January 21.

“It would have been a sign Christian Dior paid attention to – and so did we. They shared the connection to the garden and the light; they both lived in wonderful homes and had their separate private worlds which they both used as inspiration. It just seemed like the perfect thing to do,” Jones said.

Both men were gay. Grant had a number of relationships with men throughout his life, including economist John Maynard Keynes, writer David Garnett, artist George Bergen, and Bell’s brother Adrian Stephen. He and Bell, who was Virginia Woolf’s sister, also had a daughter named Angelica.

“Sometimes the Bloomsbury group is seen as a bunch of people who are in love with Duncan Grant,” Hepburn said.

“He was a very handsome man and he had a charm that meant people were very close to him and loyal to him, and his lovers and friends stayed with him throughout his life. But he was also a gay man living at a time when it was criminalized in this country, and he was trying to live a different life, which was outside the norm,” he continued.

“And Charleston became a haven for a group of like-minded people who wanted to explore not only artistic freedom, but also sexual and social freedom. And I think the political message of Grant’s life, and Charleston as a sanctuary, is extremely important,” he said.

Duncan Grant, Design for a Fire Curtain, Sadlers Wells Theatre, 1930, The Charleston Trust.

Duncan Grant, Design for a Fire Curtain, Sadlers Wells Theatre, 1930, The Charleston Trust.
Mark Heathcote/© The Estate of Duncan Grant. All rights reserved DACS 2022.

The Charleston Trust is working on the first major exhibition to explore and celebrate Bloomsbury Group fashion, curated by fashion critic and author Charlie Porter. Titled “Bring No Clothes: Bloomsbury & Fashion,” it is set to open in September 2023 and will feature items from the Dior collection.

“Virginia Woolf talks a lot about clothes in her writing. They were artists who were artists and writers coming out of the Victorian era, coming out of the oppression of their elders and trying to imagine society differently, and clothing and fashion were very important in that “, noted Hepburn.

“Woolf wrote to invite his friends to visit and said, ‘Don’t bring clothes. And by that, she means you can enter whatever you want. There’s no dress code, you won’t have to dress up for dinner,” he explained.

The Dior collaboration is based on 11 works selected from the Charleston Trust collection, in addition to Jones’ personal treasure on Bloomsbury.

“He doesn’t just collect books, he reads and he thinks, and he knows these artists and this era so deeply. That’s what makes this collaboration so special is that it’s not a passing fad. It’s not just there for one collection and one season for Kim. It’s so deeply embedded in his artistic practice,” Hepburn said.

Since taking over as artistic director of Dior’s men’s collections, Jones has worked with artists as varied as Kaws, Daniel Arsham, Amoako Boafo and Kenny Scharf. His recent collections have expanded the concept of collaborations to artists and writers of the past, as well as other designers.

“I think there is a way of working for Kim, which is so collaborative, which perhaps echoes the way the Bloomsbury Group worked 100 years ago as a group of friends, imagining the life differently, thinking creatively about all the issues in art and society,” Hepburn said.

“As a museum, as a gallery, we sit and wait to be surprised. That’s the joy of working with amazing creatives, that you can trust they’ll produce something that will allow different audiences, different people to find a different way to experience Duncan Grant and his friends, and the house that he created,” he said. .


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