PARIS – In the lush surroundings of Paris’ Musee Rodin, the landscapes of artist Marta Roberti formed the backdrop on Monday for the latest Dior couture collection by designer Maria Grazia Chiuri.
The designs, inspired by power, feminism and the divine, shone against Roberti’s fantastical creations of exotic birds and ethereal trees. Actors Natalie Portman and Rosamund Pike were among VIP attendees captivated by the fusion of these imaginative realms of threads and thoughts.
Here’s a look at some highlights from Monday’s fall-winter 2023 collections:
DIVINE GODDESSES OF DIOR STRUT AMID BIRDS AND TREES
The collection by Chiuri drew its strength from the past, a salute to timelessness. A crepe cape with long, draping sleeves set the classical tone, with the gathered plaits of the models’ hair a throwback to times past. Subtle and understated, the adornments of pearl or gold earrings added a quiet elegance, while tunic shapes and classical banding played up the nostalgic silhouettes, all marked by loose proportions and understated charm.
Yet, this was no mere repeat of history. The shimmer and sparkle lent the collection a vibrant, modern heartbeat. The restrained sophistication was occasionally punctuated with Renaissance sleeves — a Chiuri signature from her time at Valentino — bridging past and present. And amidst the classical musings, a white apron-shirt, pristine and fresh, broke the ethereal continuity, presenting a fashion-forward mix.
Roberti’s goddess-inspired works of art lining the walls breathed life into the runway, transforming it into a modern pantheon where models, resembling exquisite deities, seemed to float by. The sculpted jackets and coats, folded beneath the chest, along with the serene palette of white, beige, silver, and pale gold, all mirrored classical statues and columns.
Pearls, iridescently entwined with silver threads, accentuated numerous ensembles, symbolizing purity.
In Chiuri’s hands, the essence of femininity – with its strength and fragility – took center stage.
“PARIS’ PARADOXICAL ENERGY”: BAZ LUHRMANN SPEAKS ON COUTURE AND CONFLICT
In an interview at Paris’ Rodin Museum before the Dior couture show, acclaimed director Baz Luhrmann touched on the complex issue of attending a glamorous fashion event amidst the backdrop of recent civil unrest in France. The protests, triggered by the tragic police shooting of Nahel, a 17-year-old boy of north African descent, stand in stark contrast to the haute couture spectacle, a contrast that Luhrmann described as a “paradoxical energy in Paris.”
Reflecting on the tension, Luhrmann acknowledged the deep-seated sorrow and public outcry pervading Paris. He recognized the legitimacy of the protests, saying, “There are things going on that really have a legitimate cause.”
Amidst such tragedies, he said, the vital role of art and beauty underscored their significance as essential sources of hope.
CELINE SAID “NON” BECAUSE OF RIOTS
French house Celine, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, decided to cancel its Paris Fashion Week show Sunday over the nationwide riots. The Celine menswear show, like last season, was scheduled outside the official men's calendar.
The house's designer Hedi Slimane called it “inconsiderate” to hold a runway show when the French capital was “bereaved and bruised.” Other LVMH houses such as Dior, which went ahead to stage runways like most other brands, held a different view.
SCHIAPARELLI: ROSEBERRY’S WHIMSICAL WONDERLAND
After breaking the internet with his last show in January, featuring eye-catching animal heads, the question on everyone’s lips was how designer Daniel Roseberry could match the energy — and controversy — with his latest couture outing for Schiaparelli. The answer? A delightful showcase of archetypal couture that was not short of whimsical moments, including a model strutting down the runway in a gigantic sheep fleece, paired playfully with sheep trotter heels.
This season, Roseberry continued to delve into the world of exaggerated proportions, staying true to the ironic touches that were defining elements of the house’s founder, Elsa Schiaparelli. The first look, in contrasting black and white, evoked a chic, saucy nun, her habit swooshing fluidly with every step.
Large geometric lapels adorned with glittering gold floral jewelry became focal points, while Surrealist touches, like gold clasps in the shape of human ears, provided an unexpected twist. Corsets were a recurring theme, lending an edgy feel to a collection that had plenty of provocative moments, such as dark, lava-like dresses appearing to hang precariously from two pegs on the models' breasts.
However, some looks seemed to teeter on the edge of couture parody, such as a giant silver quilt, defying description, which enveloped the model so completely it almost swallowed her whole.
Regardless, Roseberry’s ability to spark discussion proves that he is becoming a formidable force in the fashion world.
IRIS VAN HERPEN FUSES COUTURE AND ‘FUTUR’
The couture landscape literally took a deep dive into the future at Iris Van Herpen’s latest showcase in Paris. The Dutch visionary, known for her fearless fusion of technology and fashion, presented an ethereal fall collection for 2023 that transported the audience to a futuristic underwater universe, accentuated by ’80s geometric aesthetics.
The designs, awash with contrasting whites and blacks punctuated by metallic accents and soft oceanic tones, were reminiscent of architectonic landscapes. Van Herpen said she was challenging the status quo by being inspired by a possible future of waterborne urbanism that coexists with marine ecosystems. It's a powerful statement in an era of rising sea levels and increasing vulnerability of our urban landscapes.
Van Herpen’s aquatic and futuristic themes emerged resplendent Monday, combining her dual passions for the organic world and the metaverse.
This season’s pieces merged the kinesis of aquatic life with the stasis of geometric shapes. Corsetry with ribbed detailing mirrored the exoskeletons of deep-sea creatures, while delicate layers of fabric floated like translucent jellyfish, their undulating movements echoing in the sweep and flow of her designs.
Footwear provided a unique spectacle, the pearl-like boots seeming to grow organically over the models’ feet.
There were moments when the designer’s undersea musing became a tad heavy-handed, as evidenced by a turquoise green gown with a ribbed bodice and circular sleeves. Despite these instances, the collection retained its allure.
VALLI’S EXAGGERATED PROPORTIONS AND DRAMATIC DROPS
Giambattista Valli, the Italian couturier celebrated for his joyful excess and extravagant volumes, unveiled his latest couture collection. Daring and decadent, the opening looks were a study in Valli’s signature play with proportions, juxtaposing monochromatic shades and epochs in a series of ensembles. The first dress, with its rivulets of tulle in the underskirt, cleverly resembled the crystal formations of an underground cave — all against the charm of a 1950s bustier top. It was a great mix.
Drawing from Valli’s flair for color and movement, the collection had “the drop” as its cornerstone, seen in the fluidity of shoulders, busts, and bows. An unforgettable piece was a black mermaid gown where the white silk bust plunged into a dramatically dropped train. Continuing this theme was a floor-length Chinese silver gown adorned with oversized dropped bows resembling giant clams - that looked like they might eat up their admirer!
The collection’s high point was Valli’s innovative trompe l’oeil creations, blurring the line between the front and back of the gowns. One standout piece, echoing the lingerie-esque front seen in his previous collections, was juxtaposed with a grandiose tiered tulle train, transforming the gown into a walking contradiction of sexy and ethereal. The juxtaposition, as Valli would put it, was like sketching a line on white paper while thinking of lavish bouquets of flowers - the foundation of his creative process.