February 26th, 2024

Dior and Schiaparelli bring historical reverence to Haute Couture Week in Paris

By Thomas Adamson, The Associated Press on January 22, 2024.

A model wears a creation for Schiaparelli's Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2024 collection presented in Paris, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (AP) – Dior’s couture show at Paris’ Musee Rodin wove an intricate Ottoman tapestry for spring and attracted a tapestry of stars to rival it Monday. Natalie Portman, Elizabeth Debicki, Ali Wong, Felicity Jones, Glenn Close, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, and Carla Bruni were among the VIP guests on hand to admire Maria Grazia Chiuri’s latest fusion of art and fashion.

An installation by artist Isabella Ducrot adorned the runway walls. The set called “Big Aura” featured myriad oversized dresses, each towering up to 5 meters (16.4 feet) high, that were reminiscent of Ottoman sultans’ attire and hinted at the masterful show theme – the deft uniqueness of couture.

Here are some highlights of spring 2024 couture displays in Paris:

DIOR’S UNIQUE APPROACH TO COUTURE

It began with an understated yet powerful beige trench, worn with the large collar draping over a bare torso and complemented by a raw pearl double choker reminiscent of teeth that added a subtle bite.

Chiuri’s interplays of architectural silhouettes and innovative materials were out in force for a diverse collection that had a lot to say, seamlessly intertwining historical richness with the contemporary.

A draped skirt embroidered with metallic Ottoman-style threads exemplified Dior’s own haute couture legacy. Yet, the show’s scope extended beyond Ottoman influences. It was very much a Dior show.

Above all, it served as a homage to the unsung heroes of haute couture: Dior’s legendary seamstresses. Their artistry was vividly showcased in pieces like a crocheted field flower twine top, a teeming tapestry of intricate blooms that had guests reached for their cameras. It was the piece de resistance.

Further delving into Dior’s rich history, the La Cigale dress, an iconic piece from Christian Dior’s autumn-winter 1952 collection, was revisited. It was reimagined for the modern era, standing out with its sculptural construction and luxurious moiré fabric.

The ambition of the collection was its only weakness, sometimes leading it to skirt the edges of thematic coherence. Detailed embroideries, although masterfully crafted, occasionally strayed into whimsicality. One example was an elegant, long black crepe wrap dress, which, while stylish, seemed incongruous in the display as a whole.

Perhaps this was the point. Ducrot’s installation underscored the theme of unique haute couture auras, garments that transcend fashion to reflect the wearer’s individuality. This pursuit of uniqueness, while commendable, led to a collection that, in its rich variety, occasionally missed a focus. Nonetheless, it remained a powerful expression of couture’s transformative allure.

SCHIAPARELLI’S SURREAL FUSION OF HISTORY AND KINK

Schiaparelli, piloted by the inventive Daniel Roseberry, inaugurated Haute Couture Week with a celebration of glamour, surrealism, and historical reverence. The collection was a vivid tableau of the house’s 1930s glory days under the late, great Elsa Schiaparelli, fused with a provocative twist that electrified the VIP audience.

Opening with a dominatrix-inspired black PVC-style gown, complete with an Elizabethan choker, the show was a study in historic contrasts. This modern reinterpretation of the choker, blending the grandeur of yesteryear with a nod to BDSM aesthetics, showcased Roseberry’s ingenious ability to weave art and high fashion with tongue-in-cheek.

A standout piece, a 17th-century black cape with rope adornments, mirrored the kinky spikes of a BDSM submissive while being set against a bejeweled neck clasp. Beyond its tantalizing exterior, the ensemble underscored Schiaparelli’s commitment to craftsmanship.

Roseberry’s tribute to the house’s founder was masterfully displayed in a pearl suit jacket ensemble with tubular, sculptural arms that redefined the human form. This piece, and others, exemplified his surreal take on classics, a hallmark of Elsa Schiaparelli’s original vision.

The show’s zenith was a dramatic black sheer lace screen top, sprawling out with intricate vein-like details, reminiscent of an insect’s wings – an embodiment of the house’s surrealist roots.

It was a stunning blend of Schiaparelli’s glamorous frivolity and exaggerated silhouettes, reimagined for a contemporary age.

Schiaparelli’s Spring 2024 collection transcended mere couture; after seasons in the creative wilderness, the brand under Roseberry now consistently challenges us with its glamorous frivolity and innovation.

THE DISAPPEARING RUNWAY: A CALL FOR REVAMPED SEATING

In the fast-paced world of modern fashion, some runway shows, including those by Dior and others, may benefit from rethinking audience seating arrangements.

At Dior’s couture show, all four benches of guests were placed at the same height, a stark contrast to the Dior menswear shows where back rows were tiered higher. This setup led to complaints from some attendees, who found themselves able to see only the top half of the couture designs, hindering a complete appreciation of the collection.

The seating issue has sparked discussions among fashion enthusiasts and critics alike, with many feeling that the arrangement feels elitist, privileging front-row viewers while limiting the experience for others.

One back-row guest humorously remarked, “I might have just to review the collection’s top half.”

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