PARIS (AP) — Pioneering black artist Josephine Baker, who left the United States to achieve world fame in Paris in the 1920s, was Dior’s muse for a spring couture collection of old-school archetypal classicism.
With her caressing velvets and silks, embroidery, sequins and tiny silver studs, designer Maria Grazia Chiuri may not have reinvented the wheel, but she certainly embellished it beautifully on the first Monday of Paris Fashion Week.
However, the first day of the event was not without controversy after Dior came under fire for inviting a Ukrainian-sanctioned influencer from Russia. Additionally, Schiaparelli came under fire online for exalting trophy hunting after presenting a fake lion’s head.
Here are some highlights from the first day of spring-summer couture shows:
THE BAKER OF DIOR
Lining the scented interiors of an annex within the Rodin Museum gardens were giant images of African-American artist Mickalene Thomas de Baker alongside other Black American icons.
The gritty photographs of the paintings documented Baker’s extraordinary life and her many roles: as a member of the French Resistance, a civil rights activist and humanist, as well as a dancer and performer.
The guests took their seats, curious and excited.
According to Dior, a series of coats, a take on the styles of bathrobes, represented “the cozy and intimate dressing room that precedes (Baker’s) entrance on stage.” In couture terms, they were undeniably beautiful, if somewhat subdued. The first came in silk velvet; his black diamond lapels hung with dramatic weight. Worn over delicately ruched satin bathing suits in a 1950s version. Elsewhere, knitted mesh made of silk and steel beads cut elegant vintage into an ensemble, while evoking power. calm feminine. Worn over a shimmering crinkled velvet evening gown to suggest intimacy.
Later, Chiuri let her hair down a bit and put on her bangs. Baker’s heyday was evoked in a steel beaded mesh skirt trimmed with glittering fringe.
Although the theme created an expectation that Dior clothing itself could offer a powerful exploration of racism or being black, the collection itself remained very Parisian. It was just a veiled tribute to the black trailblazer who fought battles against race, gender and nationality throughout her life.
That said, it was admirable how many models of color walked the show, in more than half of the 60 looks, especially given the fact that Paris Fashion Week and the luxury industry in general have battled against the persistent accusations of targeting. .
MAISIE WILLIAMS PLAYS THE SISTER OF DIOR
“Game of Thrones” star Maisie Williams looked perfect posing in front of images of stars like Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone and Baker in a pixie hairstyle and Dior bustier before the photographers’ lens flares.
Williams called her arrival at the show “a dream” in part because she just played Dior’s sister Catherine Dior in the highly anticipated Apple TV drama series “The New Look,” which centers on the bitter rivalry between the dressmaker and Gabrielle. “Coco Chanel.
Williams, who found fame playing the feisty Arya Stark, told The Associated Press that “I think the Dior woman is something to really aspire to,” calling the clothing “powerful” for women.
“The women that I love to play have qualities that align,” she said.
RUSSIAN INFLUENCER GUEST SANCTIONED
Dior drew criticism online for inviting a Russian TV presenter named Yana Rudkovskaya to a Paris couture show, who was sanctioned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on January 15 on a list of cultural figures and propagandists suspected of supporting the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Other houses have reportedly refused to allow Rudkovskaya, who is an influential person, to participate in her shows.
Rudkovskaya posted a photo of her Dior couture invite on Instagram. Some journalists asked how many “other sanctioned Russians attend Haute Couture in Paris.”
SCHIAPARELLI TAKES SURREAL TWISTS
Glamorous frivolity, exaggerated silhouettes, and surreal takes on classics that hark back to the 1930s heyday of house founder Elsa Schiaparelli.
That was the mood at the season’s first spring-summer couture show, and what a start! – with its gold laces, intricate decorations and front-row VIP roll call inside the Petit Palais’s soaring gilded atrium.
Designer Daniel Roseberry was in top form Monday, taking classic looks and putting unexpected twists on them. An oversized stiff-shouldered dark tuxedo was transformed into a space-age minimalist jumpsuit.
A bronze bustier reimagined as a giant oyster shell rose like a fan, obscuring the model’s face. Her incredible pearl embellishments were rendered in organic and crystallized layers that showcase the craftsmanship of the in-house workshop.
A myriad of ornate baubles, almost resembling wet pearls, dripped organically from a puffy bolero jacket that cut a beautiful silhouette, and had perhaps belonged to some undersea princess.
Yet the collection was also reverential to the house’s founder, whose unique brand of frivolity captivated audiences around the world. A giant lion head, full of fangs and bushy mane, modeled by Irina Shayk added a touch to this collection. It was a witty nod to surrealism, but also a statement about the absurdity of wearing fur.
Kylie Jenner, who sat front row at Schiaparelli and also sported a three-dimensional lion head and gold snakeskin bag, later came under fire online amid accusations of glorifying cruelty to animals.
IRIS VAN HERPEN GOES DIGITAL
Going against the grain of Paris Fashion Week, which is turning its back on digital, Dutch Wunderkind said of its latest haute couture offering that it “is proud to announce that… instead of a traditional show, the brand shows a digital presentation that allows for greater creative freedom and storytelling.”
An in-person presentation accompanied the film of the “Carte Blanche” collection, in which he teamed up with a French artist named Julie Gautier, exploring how female beauty can be used as a form of control.
A limp red dress, with sinews revealing inches of flesh, looked like a poisonous sea creature, while interlocking circles evoked spiky yet gorgeous coral. Billowing blue and silver portions of bouncy fabric in one gown flowed like a bouncy underwater, touching on the award-winning couturier’s signature organic inspiration that he has designed for artists like Bjork.
VALLI GIRLS IN FLOWER
Spring was truly in the air at Giambattista Valli, whose powdery pinks, canary yellows and pale turquoises mingled with the floral perfume wafting through the air to crown this season gloriously.
In this collection, the acclaimed Italian couturier removed items from the classic wardrobe or made unexpected changes to dresses.
A regal ball gown that billowed with voluminous whistling, sleeves, and train, she imagined off the shoulders and revealing inches of leg. An exaggeratedly proportioned mermaid gown flared dramatically from the knee, ready for a spring wedding. It was a nice break from the style, teamed with a rigid tank top that revealed the midriff in a sporty way.
The flowers were also a touchstone.
The cuffs were adorned with giant roses, which reappeared in another over-the-shoulder look as if to cushion the model’s head. Meanwhile, abundant embroidery and tulle bands accompanied hair styled to evoke a version of Arabian dress, with the ubiquitous giant pearl earrings seeming to evoke the famous ancient traditions of Kosovar brides.