Dior does folklore in Paris couture, riffing on Ukraine art

Jul 3, 2022, 10:03 PM | Updated: Jul 4, 2022, 3:59 pm

PARIS (AP) — Images of traditional embroideries and floral paintings adorned the walls of Dior’s celebrity-laden runway homage to Ukraine as Paris’ four-day Couture Week kicked off Monday.

The set, from Ukrainian artist Olesia Trofymenko, was the starting point for designer Maria Grazia Chiuri who returned this season to the atelier’s needle-and-thread. It made for an embroidery-rich collection riffing on Eastern European styles, which the house said was also a message of cultural dialogue and support — one that could imagine a “better tomorrow.”

Haute couture is the age-old Parisian tradition of producing exorbitantly priced, made-to-measure garments for the world’s richest women.

Here are some highlights of the fall-winter 2022 collections:

DIOR’S CRAFT

A pared-down vibe greeted guest celebrities including Naomi Watts, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver inside a perfumed annex of the Left Bank Rodin Museum.

Dior’s famous atelier thus forwent its sequined razzmatazz to make craftmanship center stage this fall for an organic display of gowns in earthy tones — and the occasional muted shimmer.

Whatever this show lacked in energy, it made up for in detailing. Chiuri channeled the “tree of life,” the leitmotif in Trofymenko’s art, by evoking roots and branches in long, loose folksy gowns — or in stiff, cropped ethnic jackets embroidered in silks and cotton threads and yarn.

In a near-poetic touch, patchworks of braids in bronze guipure on full skirts seemed to resemble shimmering morning dew on foliage.

Yet despite its precise execution, there was little new in the exhaustive 68-piece collection. At times, Chiuri seemed to fall back on the Renaissance styles that defined her tenure at Valentino from 2008-2016, such as tight round necks, long regal gowns and floaty bishop’s sleeves.

Still, there were some stand-out looks, such as a cinched-waisted black gown with white lace bib that resembled a rebellious nun that had had enough of the convent.

SCHIAPARELLI’S HIDE AND REVEAL

Wide-brimmed hats shrouded the face through dusty, dappled lighting. Torsos peered through while sections of midriff were cut down to a ribbed undergarment that resembled human flesh.

The house’s American designer Daniel Roseberry explored sensuality – and covering up – in a largely thoughtful display that veered off toward the end.

The collection featured dark, archetypal couture. Voluminous satin skirts whooshed out in every direction, capturing the gravity-free feel of a Renaissance painting.

But there were also many quirks in deference to the Italian house’s eccentric founder Elsa Schiaparelli whose heyday emerged between the two World Wars.

Two enormous earrings made of bunches of gold grapes cascaded down to cover the bare chested model’s nipples. In the center of a quilted zigzag crop top were two whimsical, molded fabric breasts.

According to company lore, a 1948 survey of Americans put Elsa Schiaparelli at the top of their list of most famous French people. But they still couldn’t pronounce her name – the “Sch” is hard, as in “school.”

Roseberry is on track to making the house as famous once more.

“SHOCKING” EXHIBIT

The Schiaparelli couture show was held in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs to mark a new retrospective at the museum celebrating the late, great couturier who invented the color shocking pink and courted the Surrealist artists.

From July 6, the museum is showcasing “Shocking! The Surreal Worlds of Elsa Schiaparelli,” featuring 577 works including 212 garments, alongside paintings, sculptures, jewelry, perfume bottles, ceramics, posters and photographs signed by her friends and collaborators, from Man Ray to Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau.

The exhibit also tracks her enduring legacy on fashion, showing her influence on designs by Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix, Azzedine Alaïa and John Galliano.

IRIS VAN HERPEN TURNS 15

The Dutch wunderkind’s collection was a futuristic spectacular — featuring winged shoes, dynamic silver tendrils and gravity-defying abstract ribbed silhouettes that one viewer compared to the Marvel Universe – although a refined, couture version.

Billed as a “first-of-its-kind mixed reality runway experience,” guests were encouraged to bring their mobile devices ready to capture the incredible detail on the garments that – in Van Herpen’s signature style – fused fashion and art.

One bone white creation gained an added dimension when it was captured and slowed down on video: Its cape-like tendrils whipped slowly in all directions like a sci-fi creature. This collection, the house said, fused the physical and virtual. It succeeded.

There was something dreamlike about the show. It started with the decor’s hanging gold blossoms, strange white human sculpture and mesmeric music. That reflected in the fashion as well. Sheer white structured fabric whooshes created large tubular ripples down the model’s body. It was as if the cosmic, organic and a computer game’s graphics melded together.

The show, entitled “Meta Morphism,” was also a milestone for the award-winning couturier – marking the 15th anniversary of her eponymous fashion design house.

VALLI’S FLOURISHES

Big shoulder flourishes, sometimes dropping to the bust or morphing into bows, were the creative touchstone for couture master Giambattista Valli. He put out frothy display at the chic Pavillon Vendome Monday evening, which bled from bridal white gowns into a climax of eye-popping tulle.

The typically feminine Italian designer had fun with shoulder detailing this season — from leg of mutton sleeves, shoulders dripping in tea green feathers, to abstract forms resembling crisp white origami clouds.

Yet color was surely the strongest point in the 58 gown-collection — such as one lime green thick-feathered coat that almost swept the floor. It was fabulous — part pimp, part Grace Kelly.

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Dior does folklore in Paris couture, riffing on Ukraine art