The cat walk

South African ceramicist Hylton Nel’s cat sculptures inspired the latest Dior runway.

Kim Jones, English fashion designer and the Creative Director of Dior Homme and Fendi womenswear, unveiled the Dior Men Summer 2025 collection on 21 June 2024 at Paris’s Val-de-Grâce. Dotted with six massive reproductions of Hylton Nel’s ceramic cat works, the runway featured a slew of pieces also inspired by his work.


Jones explained: ‘I was thinking that Hylton’s work could lend itself to a collection – so I went to see him in the Karoo. I wanted to do the set as a very, very large scale of his works. The idea of these ceramic giants that the models walk around…I just wanted a slight fun element.’


Nel is a conceptual artist, as described in the biography on his website: ‘Perhaps not in the way contemporary art uses the phrase but in the sense that he is an artist who is interested in ideas.’ Born in Zambia and raised in the Northern Cape, the 83-year-old potter currently lives and works in the small town of Calitzdorp.

Over the course of more than 50 years working with clay and glazes, the renowned artist has invented a visual language that is distinctly his own: his plates, bowls, vases, plaques and figurative pieces are decorated with witty line drawings, from his signature cats to penises and angels, and script drawn from poetry and current affairs.


‘With a reproduction of a ceramic cat by Hylton Nel rising in the background, the soft hues of three Dior Summer 2025 show outfits nod to the colours of the landscape surrounding the inspiring South African artist's studio as well as the appearance of unfired clay,’ writes Dior in a social media post. ‘Coats cast an eye to the archives, particularly for the look in the middle, which fuses an unrealised 1958 sketch with a 1961 couture embroidery to create an entirely new and modern item of menswear.’


The Dior Men Summer 2025 collection also championed another South African brand, Earth Age. Commissioned by Kim Jones and milliner Stephen Jones, the Cape Town-based accessories brand crafted a collection of crochet hats that were then adorned with ceramic beads for the models to wear down the runway. The hats, a new take on the brand's Helix beaded brim hats, were crocheted with natural cotton and hemp and made by Capetonian women. 


Watch the Dior Men Summer 2025 show here



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