The latest Dunhill collection by Kim Jones is everything I wanted and expected it to be. Jones' vision for SS10 is English to the core, classic whilst taking you back to the roots of it's founder, who was known for his love for exploration and travels, but at the same time it all feels very modern. On the surface it was a traditional collection which aimed to bring Dunhill home to a new market. However, as the looks moved from simple tailored day wear in to a more casual weekend and on to a capsule traveller collection through to evening wear, it was cleat that Jones had picked out key inspirations from the past and repackaged them for the new era of luxury.
Alfred Dunhill joined his father’s saddlery business in 1887, ambitious and inventive, he brought new ideas and following his father’s retirement in 1893 he planned to change the focus of the business to cater exclusively for the pioneering motorist. Kim Jones has certainly channeled the history of the brand and undoubtedly understands the heritage. I get the impression he has spent hours upon hours researching the back catalogues of Dunhill and books like Dunhill by Design, finding inspiration and updating these ideas for the 21st century The heritage of Dunhill is so broad and so darn British, from its beginnings with the birth of the car to creating luxury accessories for motorcycling, aviation and the oh-so-fashionable smokers in the Roaring Twenties.
Over the last week or so the team at Dunhill raised my excitement levels so that they broke the scale through the best use of twitter by a fashion house. Intermittently throughout the last few days dunhill_inParis have twitpic'd an array of sneak preview images which have left me breathless and sweaty palmed. Hand tie dyed pocket squares, carbon fibre printed leather bags, piles of luxurious Mongolian cashmere sweaters, shagreen leather first used by Dunhill in the 30s, sunglasses made of hand polished flint found in the South Downs, polished flint boxes with leather straps handmade at the Alfred Dunhill leather workshop in Walthamstow, bags inspired by early air travel in the 1920s. Other features include a silver tie pin in the shape of a golf club, luxury pens encased in the same veneers as Roll Royce interiors, archive print shirts and the AD embossed logo from 1923 added to bags and brogues. Below are a few of my favourite preview images...
My favourite accessory all season. Polished flint boxes which have a wonderful natural pattern. The flint comes from the South Downs and after being polished is dressed up in handmade leather straps which were made in Alfred Dunhill's workshop in Walthamstow, East London.
This is the collection I hoped Jones would make after first reading his Wallpaper interview in December last year. The below question and answer left the greatest impression on me and having seen the latest offering, it is particularly pertinent.
How difficult is it to balance the rich heritage of the brand with bringing it into the 21st century?
If you really look at the Dunhill heritage you will see that there is nothing ‘old’ about it, in fact it is wonderfully modern. Alfred Dunhill himself was obsessed with innovation and new technology, which means that there are pieces in the archive that are just as relevant today as anything I design.
For a brand with such strong roots, any steering by Jones has been to emphasise them – those being the characteristics of classicism and understatement but his challenge was to present these with a wholly modern personality too which he has surely done with this collection.