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Optimism at Dior, Opulence at Saint Laurent

Angelo Flaccavento reports from Dior, Saint Laurent, Koché and Marine Serre as fashion week kicks off in Paris.
Spring/Summer 2022 looks from Christian Dior, Saint Laurent and Koché. Courtesy.
Spring/Summer 2022 looks from Christian Dior, Saint Laurent and Koché. Courtesy.

At the opening of Paris fashion week, Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri opted for a show-performance. She involved Anna Paparatti — the long forgotten performance artist who has recently been rediscovered thanks to a Rome exhibition curated by Alessio de Navasques — in the design of the show space. The installation, called Il gioco del nonsense was basically a 3-D version of il gioco dell’oca (chutes and ladders): the models stood on a round, colour-blocked pedestal, taking their turn on the circular catwalk one by one.

There was a sense of both military strictness and childish playfulness to the staging, and that was the link to the collection. Youthfulness was the name of the game: A lines, square-tipped shoes, bright solid hues, everything very graphic. Dior is turning away from its ladylike antics. Sort of. “I think this is the moment to edit things down and streamline them up,” said Chiuri backstage, adding that she looked for inspiration in the slim look collection Marc Bohan designed for the House in 1961. The sixties are popping up everywhere this season, and it is not difficult to understand why: optimism, rebirth, hope for the future, youthquake are all qualities associated with the decade. Chiuri chose to jump on the bandwagon. The outcome was quite literal, if joyful, with incongruous references to boxing thrown in to spice things up. The result was not particularly memorable, but that didn’t seem to phase the clientele that loves the brand so much: Dior and Chanel are the only shows where one actually sees a cadre of clients dressed head-to-toe in the audience.

After the rough and emotional shows of the past, Koché's Christelle Kocher opted for an intimate, couture-like presentation in the gilded salons of the Shangri-La to mark her comeback to the catwalk. The audience was so close to the makeshift runway, one could really savor the exquisite craftsmanship, the delicacy of the embroideries, the surprising layering of different fabrics like sporty aertex and precious organza. This was a simpler, and thereby more powerful Koché: clean lines culled from sports and streetwear, elevated through precious fabrics and couture-like treatment.

Marine Serre stuck to the moving image format, but the film, entitled Ostal 24 and made with past collaborators Sacha Barbin and Ryan Doubiago, was screened in the Marais, before drinks and dinner, with key pieces from the collection — not her best, despite some striking upcycling and recycling — exposed on mannequins. The movie was rich, emotionally and visually, while the pieces on the mannequins, despite the handiwork, looked a little dull and the effect was a bit discombobulating. The style Serre has devised is intensely narrative, roughly opulent and deserves to be seen in motion.

At Saint Laurent, we were back to pre-Covid catwalk drama: loud music, artificial rain and the Eiffel Tower. Anthony Vaccarello certainly knows how to put on a show. The results — inspired by Paloma Picasso, a woman whose independence and unique sense of style had a lasting effect on monsieur Saint Laurent — were striking, even though the fashion proposal was relatively narrow: a bevy of catsuits, massive shoulders, robe-manteau and towering heels. Picasso wore lots of Forties vintage, and that was evident in the show, as was her love for bold jewellery. It was all a bit literal, but with Vaccello’s signature rake-thin brashness. All in all, this was Vaccarello getting a bit more opulent, a bit more voluptuous, but only a bit.

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