PARIS – The atelier — the workshop of hands — took the Dior center stage on Monday for a refined show on the first day of Paris couture week, which aims to elevate the work of the house’s behind-the-scenes seamstresses.
The stars came out in droves to the Musee Rodin venue, including actress Rosamund Pike and “The Crown” star Claire Foy, who posed for cameras, exclaiming: “It’s beautiful. I’m in awe.”
Another VIP in attendance, model and actress Cara Delevingne, was criticized for not donning a mask.
Here are some highlights of Monday’s spring-summer 2022 couture collections:
DIOR CELEBRATES ITS CRAFT
Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri wanted to show how the craft of the “petites mains” seamstresses, some of whom have worked in the Dior atelier for decades, was equally important as the art or fashion itself.
This muse was a springboard for a sumptuous and archetypally couture display.
A case in point were the teeming white beaded tapestry embroideries gracing a structured ecru wool twill coat. Here more than ornamental, the chic embroideries actually created the garment's silhouette through sheer heaviness and swag.
Elsewhere, an ash gray crepe skirt with a high waist made a same statement: It seemed almost alive thanks to myriad long embroideries rustling and shaking on the pixie-like model.
Speaking through the clothes, Chiuri seemed to be saying: Art and craft are one and the same.
Embroidered tights were also a big theme for spring, with Dior’s army of seamstresses having gone to work in embellishing several statement pieces. Unfortunately the sheer weight of the paillette embroidering did not always cut the most flattering of shapes on some of the tights, all be them finely executed.
In style terms, there were hints of the on-trend 60s, with features such as Peter Pan collars appearing on sensuous sheer organza blouses, or neat fitted Bar silhouette tuxedo suits with bold menswear black satin lapels.
MASKLESS CARA DELEVINGNE AT DIOR
Stringent measures have been implemented across Paris Fashion Week to comply with French government guidance amid a surge of omicron-driven new infections.
COVID-19, which has has brought the fashion industry to its knees, has seen the cancellation of countless shows, even ending entire seasons, and fashion shows are only being staged again on condition that guests show proof of vaccination and wear face masks while seated. It’s the same rule for everyone whether celebrity or journalist. France is currently registering Europe’s highest-ever daily coronavirus cases.
Actress Rosumund Pike set a fine example by carefully putting on her face mask as soon as she sat down even despite wearing an intricate couture Dior headpiece. Nearby, “The Crown” star Claire Foy also donned a mask after passing the photo call.
Model and actress Cara Delevingne, however, turned heads for all the wrong reasons: Failing to wear a mask throughout as she watched the creations from the front row.
SCHIAPARELLI ASKS A HIGHER POWER FOR ANSWERS
Daniel Roseberry said of his couture collection that he wanted to respond to the “pervasive sense of exhaustion” and that “luckluster” feeling the pandemic has given many.
In particular, the Schiaparelli designer asked himself at the drawing board how the house’s signature Surrealist motifs — first espoused by the late, great Elsa Schiaparelli between the two World Wars — can be relevant in a world where reality itself was in flux.
The answer? He went up to the heavens, channeling the celestial. It was, he said, a case of “a move towards the elemental” to understand the chaos.
This couture collection thus became the realm of the high couture priestess, one who donned exaggerated circular hat-headdresses, wore gold, black and white, and floated by gleaming and resplendent.
Gold jewelry — a specially created shade in 24K leaf — hovered around a model’s bust in all directions as if suspended by supernatural powers. Column silhouettes rose into spliced white bodices that opened up at the bust like a space-age flower, or into to a giant graphic bejeweled bib in black.
Some of the silhouettes verged on pastiche, such as jutting spikes that emanated incoherently from a model’s bust.
But the fastidious construction of many gowns — one had gold tentacles spilling down like a jellyfish — surely made up for it. The palatial setting -- Le Petit Palais — with its myriad moldings and busts also added to the Grecian drama.
GAULTIER REMEMBERS THIERRY MUGLER
French fashion designer Thierry Mugler, whose theatrical designs were worn by celebrities like Madonna, Lady Gaga and Cardi B, has died at 73. The announcement on his official Instagram said he died Sunday.
A contemporary of Jean Paul Gaultier who admired his work, Mugler was known for his architectural style, defined by broad shoulders and tiny waist. Much has been said over the years of the tensions between the two fashion greats, rumors that Gaultier has said belong to the past.
In a bittersweet message Monday, Gaultier told The Associated Press that his old acquaintance has now “gone to revamp the angels and demons up there. The sky was his color.”
“Enormous talent,” he added. “Always in search of perfection with his unique style!”
AZZARO SHINES AND SHIMMERS
Olivier Theyskens brings out the romantic in all of us. In Monday’s embellished affair, the Azzaro designer let rip with the sequins and shimmer and came into his own with unapologetic couture.
The brand, whose sheeny razzmatazz attracted stars including Brigitte Bardot and Sophia Loren in its 60s and 70s heyday, seemed to have found in Theyskens the right ambassador.
Designs were fluid in all senses of the word. First in the way that gleaming loose tuxedos dripped down the body. Second, for mixing menswear and womenswear on androgynous co-ed designs.
The house’s iconic long 70s dresses were revamped, in one instance with a pared down aesthetic and plunging bare-all neckline that finished in a hoop at the midriff.
Small details, like gleaming bead embroideries at the shoulder, stayed true to the brand yet were subtle.