In Egypt, the men of Dior staged a fashion show for the ages
A lone figure emerges from the dunes of Giza, the dark outline of the pyramids imprinted behind him in the Egyptian night. As it crosses the landscape, each ancient edifice lights up: first the three smaller ones, then the tombs of the larger pharaohs erupt in LED lights. A parade of characters follows, the line curving to a dazzling horde of stars from the fashion world to the drumbeats of techno music.
This was “guided by the stars,” Dior’s show of itsall Men’s 2023 collection in December. It was a spectacle by design: the last surviving wonder of the ancient world, the Pyramid of Khufu, perched atop a deeply futuristic line. Clad in flowing grays with sunset fires, the models seem to have been carried over from a DuneElegant planet. Cyan raincoats, reflective visors, and what appeared to be sci-fi oxygen masks enhanced the surrealism. Stars of human diversity also gazed out from the gathering: Robert Pattinson, Cha Eun Woo, Daniel Kaluuya, and the ageless Naomi Campbell. This visual connection between past, present and future was of course the intent of Kim Jones, Creative Director of Dior for Men.
My interest in ancient Egypt is the stars and the sky. It is this fascination with the ancient world and its analogy with what we look at today; What we inherited from them and we still learn from the past,” Jones says. “Both in the set and in the show there is this idea of being ‘guided by the stars’ and what that could imply in many ways. It is about how the past shapes the future or an idea of the future from the past.”
And 2022 was a landmark year for the House of Dior, which celebrated its 75th anniversary. The poster itself had a mystical foundation that occurred when Christian Dior, a believer in astrology, stumbled upon his “lucky star,” an object on the Rue duaubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. He took the stumble as the launching pad for a haute couture house, which redirected the fashion world toward post-WWII Paris and is now one of the glowing jewels in LVMH’s garland.
The genealogy of this heirloom is printed inall Men’s Collection. Wool demi-kilt traces its ancestry back to the 1950s dress dubbed Bonneortune, and is a clear example of how the “traditional” gender lines in fashion are blurring. But rather than a piece that looks like a pattern, the background of ancient Egypt mentions that in the vast history of human events, men also wore dresses.
She drew attention to visiting the nearby Egyptian Museum, where the golden accessories of King Tutankhamun were displayed, as well as the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, which displays eye makeup tools used by men and women alike, and further emphasized that it is the division in modern times between the sexes and this is a deviation. Not to be outdone by the Pharaohs, Dior’s male models ditched their own “luminous” makeup routine from the brand’s Capture Totale skincare line, according to Peter Phillips, creative and image director for Dior Makeup. Their eyebrows were “set” with Diorshow On Set Brow gel, and in some cases even bleached.
In addition to the obfuscation of gender, early depictions of same-sex love can also be traced back to ancient Egypt. Of note, two hieroglyphic illustrations of Khnumhotep and Niankhnum, royal manicurists from the 25th century BC, show the couple embracing and touching their noses, an act akin to a romantic kiss. (Viewers two brothers This couple will be remembered, as Bobby’s character Billy Eichner, founder of the LGBTQ+ History Museum, mentioned as a prime example of the timelessness of same-sex love).
Of course, being gay in Egypt today is more complicated. LGBTQ Egyptians face social stigma and legal threats from morality laws, which may result in deportation or imprisonment. This made Dior’s showing of the show in Giza a point of contention among some LGBTQ critics. Is it deafening that a (very) gay inclusive company is offering a gender-defying collection out there? Veiled protest action? Whatever the intent, Egypt must factor in the cultural impact of courting tourism and global gatherings such as the recent United Nations climate change conference and the Cairo Internationalilmestival, both of which were held just before the Dior show.
All human beings must reckon with the past, which, as Kim pointed out, shapes the future. The pyramids, the love of Khnumhotep and Niankhnom, stumbling down the rueaubourg Saint-Honore: here we are today, mortals contemplating eternity, guided by their stars.
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This article is part of OutsideJanuary/February 2023 problem, on newsstandsebruary 7. Support non-sexual media and subscribe – or download through Amazon, Kindle, Nook or Apple News.