Review of Dior Men’s Spring 2021 Ad Campaign by Creative Director Ronnie Cooke Newhouse & Photographer Rafael Pavarotti
Dior celebrates the work of Amoako Boafo in their beautiful Spring 2021 campaign. Blossoming with color, the campaign furthers Kim Jones’ homage to the Ghanaian painter, and features creative direction by Ronnie Cooke Newhouse with photography by Rafael Pavarotti.
Virtually unknown just two years ago, Boafo had a swift and stunning rise to become the art market’s biggest star. Considering his paintings themselves, Boafo’s far-reaching appeal is easy to see: the apparent simplicity of his colorful and eye-pleasing portraits belies their latent emotional and aesthetic complexity.
But it is not just the strength of his work alone that has made Boafo the focal point of the art world. The context of his sudden rise to market darling is a flashpoint of the conversation around identity and ownership. Much of Boafo’s increase in popularity was contemporaneous with the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, when art dealers saw an opportunity to make money in the culture’s increased interest in black artists. Dealers would buy artworks from Boafo himself, then turn around and flip them at auction for a big profit. The artist was unfairly separated from the value of his own work, his identity reduced to a commodity. Boafo (and his buyers) thus became emblematic of a conflict between the interests of capital and the integrity of artistic expression – a conflict that characterizes much of the fashion industry as well.
Thankfully, Kim Jones is genuinely interested in Boafo’s art itself. While Jones often releases collections in conversation with or inspired by the work of a particular artist, he does so with grace and sincerity, never falling into much of the industry’s another-season-another-artist culture of exploitation and excess. His new collection beautifully pays homage to the artist’s work, from prints which subtly attest to Boafo’s penchant for floral textiles, to chunky sweaters that faithfully reproduce some of his finest portraits. As part of their collaboration, Dior is also helping to fund a new studio complex in Boafo’s hometown of Accra that will host artists-in-residence as well as a gallery run by local creatives.
The vibrant colors of this campaign perfectly reflect the powerful energy of the summer 2021 collection. It’s really a celebration of Amoako Boafo’s work.
– Kim Jones, Dior Men’s Artistic Director
Pavarotti brilliantly brings Boafo’s impactful use of contrast to his photographs. He situates his models before swathes of vibrant color which contrast beautifully with the colors and sculptural silhouettes of Jones’ designs, as well as the models’ dark skin. As in Boafo’s work, Blackness is aesthetically celebrated and functions as the crux of each piece’s compositional beauty. The use of flowers as a prop in almost every shot deepens the harmonious color work, and lends a poetic bloom of springtime.
Much of Kim Jones’ work with Dior is concerned with expanding and exploring masculinity, and breaking down the binary barriers which restrict its freedom of expression. This campaign beautifully furthers that conversation while folding in important perspectives on black identity. It is also a sincere love letter to the work of one of today’s most important artists – and it might just be Dior’s best looking ad campaign ever.
Dior Men’s Artistic Director | Kim Jones Creative Director | Ronnie Cooke Newhouse Photographer | Rafael Pavarotti Models | Babacar N’doye, Jeremiah Berko, and Samer Rahma Stylist | Melanie Ward Hair | Jawara Makeup | Ammy Drammeh Casting Director | Shelley Durkan
WHERE FASHION GETS CREATIVE
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