Dior reinvents feminist fashion in history in Paris

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PARIS (AP) — Dior’s outspoken feminist designer Maria Grazia Chiuri has used the male gaze, as reflected in female oil portraits across the centuries, to make a fashion statement about empowerment and freedom. subjugation of women.

But Tuesday’s fiery ready-to-wear display in Paris, located in the splendid Tuileries Gardens, was also just a beautifully crafted collection – one of the Italian designer’s finest – which served to launch Paris Fashion Week on a solid creative base.

As publishers busily classified myriad masterpieces, some expressed relief that the French government had decided that face masks were no longer mandatory at shows.

Yet despite the glamorous and optimistic moments, the conflict in Ukraine was not far from the minds of fashion insiders – with the Paris Fashion Federation offering a rare pro-freedom statement.

Here are some highlights from the Fall-Winter 2022 ready-to-wear shows.

DIOR MAKES HISTORY

An installation of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece ‘The Lady with an Ermine’ hung at the entrance led fashion insiders including popstar Rihanna, model Elle Macpherson and tennis ace Maria Sharapova , inside the place to discover murals.

Although the art initially seemed more at home in the nearby Louvre, on closer inspection the female subjects sported contemporary discordant double eyes and seemed to symbolize some sort of new female vision.

This work, the work of Italian contemporary artist Mariella Bettineschi, was Chiuri’s starting block – one she used to explore and deconstruct historical women’s fashions.

The corsetry, the 1940s bar jacket (the house’s signature), as well as the transparent overlays reinvent the codes of yesteryear.

But this time, for Dior, it was about protection or armor against the world – with grips of fashion technology.

With her head down combatively, the first model sported a fierce, minimalist black bodysuit with white lines – both as a skeleton and a cut pattern.

Shiny multi-colored leather gloves evoked the shape of 18th century styles up to the elbow, imagined in contrasting biker styles with knuckle padding.

A silver bar jacket had dark sports ribbing. Corset-style tops had ties made of plastic toggles, in one of fashion’s many edgy touches. A black perforated corset was stiff and impenetrable.

There were many perfectly executed moments, some of which even evoked a Japanese warrior.

Chiuri was trying to say: women have been subjugated for so long, so now we’re going to use those same clothes to empower us as we move forward.

But a question on the minds of fashion critics: is Dior’s obsession with history perhaps a sign that it can’t move beyond its heritage to fully embrace a new fashion aesthetic?

THOUGHTS FOR UKRAINE

It’s the elephant in the room at Paris Fashion Week. As the bombs drop in Europe, what’s the rationale for exclusive fashion collections with scents floating in the air? There are not any. However, the Parisian fashion body attempted to address this sticky point with a statement sent to the AP in solidarity with Ukraine.

Ralph Toledano, president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, said that “the big fashion family is coming together for Paris Fashion Week, the war has brutally hit Europe and plunged the Ukrainian people into the fear and upheaval”.

He suggested the show go on because the creation itself is “based on principles of freedom, in all circumstances. And fashion has always contributed to the emancipation and individual and collective expression of our societies.

The federation issued a warning – that you “aim for the shows of the days ahead with solemnity and in reflection of these dark hours”.

STARS GO FOR OFF-WHITE

The death of respected American designer Virgil Abloh last year still casts a shadow over the Parisian fashion industry. Since his death in November, two fashion tributes have been paid to him at Louis Vuitton, where he was a menswear designer – the first in Miami and the second during the Paris men’s collections. On Monday night, his personal brand Off-White presented his fall-winter show, but it seemed to be more of a celebration of him than anything.

The posthumous show he designed was called ‘Spaceship Earth’ – and in keeping with the interstellar theme, the stars turned into constellations: A$AP Rocky, Rihanna, Idris Elba and Pharrell Williams to name a few some.

Iconic hoodies, urban cargo pants, utilitarian flip-flops, fluorescent colors and statement brands were here in droves, often in black and against the backdrop of a giant chandelier.

But there were also bittersweet moments that seemed to reference the creator’s private battle with a rare form of cancer.

Purses came out with the print “more life” and one filled with red and white pill capsules.

BOOTTER’S UPCYCLING

Could there be a more eccentric way to start womenswear than a topless model carrying a bright blue faux fur chair on her back? Probably not.

It’s thanks to former Nina Ricci designers Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh, the lauded menswear design duo, who are a breath of fresh air.

The creators, who grew up in the Caribbean, like to celebrate all that people give up.

The recycled plastics found in the ocean have thus been imagined here as fringes on an apron-like dress or as decoration on a polo shirt motif. Vivid hues reminiscent of the seabed and jellyfish-like headwear continued the theme.

Upcycling was also, as always, a big theme with strips of fabric being used to make a rugby shirt.

THE ART DECO OF SAINT LAURENT

Antony Vaccarello explored the geometric universe of Art Deco on Tuesday night for a rare show that deviated from the channeling of the house founder’s designs – in favor of his interior design.

Yves Saint Laurent, who died in 2008, is said to have been devoted to the famous art movement of the 1920s which combined modern geometry with rich materials.

And yet, the designer never used styles much to inspire his fashion shows – seen instead in his choices for furnishing his Paris residence.

Here Vaccarello corrected that.

The 40-year-old Belgian designer presented a Saint Laurent show steeped in this form-rich movement – seen on the catwalk in front of the shimmering Eiffel Tower in stacks of gold, silver and bronze bracelets, pointed V-necks or angular shoulders thick descending.

Contrasts – like a sheer panel over a flowing black dress that exposed the nipple – created sultry tension, as did a sharp but flowing tuxedo jacket (the house’s signature) against a bare chest.

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