At Paris fashion week, Dior and Saint Laurent open the ball in majesty



It’s a week of Parisian fashion of a rare density: 106 brands are registered in the women’s ready-to-wear calendar fall-winter 2023-2024, presented from February 27 to March 7. This impressive number of houses choosing the French capital reflects the prestige it has enjoyed for several years, which the crisis due to Covid-19 does not seem to have diminished. While London, New York, and Milan to a certain extent, are struggling to attract new talent, Paris is attracting very different labels.

This season’s contingent is swelled by those who, during the pandemic, had chosen to parade elsewhere, like Alexander McQueen, or off schedule, like Paco Rabanne; others who relaunch like Pierre Cardin or Martine Sitbon; historical brands seeking a new lease of life with a young designer (Nina Ricci, Ann Demeulemeester); fashion houses aiming to break into ready-to-wear like Schiaparelli; young creators who want to impose their name, such as Avellano.

Whatever their age or their ambition, these brands perceive Paris as a space in which to shine, in which to attract a bit of the wildlife of journalists, buyers, celebrities, influencers who populate the ranks of big-budget fashion shows, of which the capital has the secret. . Demonstration this Tuesday, February 28 with Dior and Saint Laurent, two growing brands of rival groups LVMH and Kering.

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Dior designs fashion shows of exponential proportions: this time, 96 looks presented to 1,500 guests in a huge tent erected in the Tuileries gardens. A riot forms in front of the entrance, as every time the singer Jisoo of the K-pop group Blackpink – “ambassador” Dior – honors her presence. Inside, a monumental and sprawling work of textile art – a proliferation of organic shapes in lace, crochet or embroidery – by Joana Vasconcelos.


The Portuguese artist named her Valkyrie Miss Dior, because it pays homage to Catherine Dior, Christian’s sister. She associates this strong, single woman, who was a member of the Resistance, with a deity from Nordic mythology, powerful and combative. Catherine Dior is also a source of inspiration for the artistic director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, who imagines a collection around the French women of the 1950s, “but not a glamorous and fantasized vision of the time: rather women anchored in real life, independent, carried by the right to vote recently acquired (in 1948) and reading the Second Sex, de Beauvoir (1949) “.

The InterContinental Ballroom

The designer remains faithful to the wardrobe of the time, made up mostly of fitted dresses, corolla skirts and small jackets, but applies a textile treatment to it that brings it into the 21st century.e century: duchess satin or poplin are crossed with invisible nylon threads which give them a crumpled, blistered consistency.

“Christian Dior composed outfits with very precise lines, inspired by haute couture. I apply my knowledge of industrial design to change their rendering, make them more blurred, lighter », explains Maria Grazia Chiuri, who is pushing her textile research very far this season. The floral motifs borrowed from Christian Dior are blurred, as if water had been spilled on a watercolor, the checkered prints are irregular, as if seen through a mist. Classic shapes in innovative materials: a formula likely to fuel the growth of the house.

The same evening, Saint Laurent deployed similar means: the Kering label built a huge rectangular box on the forecourt of the Trocadéro, facing the Eiffel Tower. In front, it is the same cacophony of horns and whistles of exasperated police officers as at the beginning of the afternoon, near the Tuileries, the same crowd movements when Rosé arrives, muse Saint Laurent and also member of the Blackpink group.

Saint Laurent

Inside, the decor has nothing to envy to Dior and reproduces the ballroom of the InterContinental hotel in Paris, where Yves Saint Laurent presented his haute couture collections between 1975 and 2001. Massive bronze chandeliers follow one another above a long raised podium which divides the room in two; in the background, mirrors give the illusion of an infinite space.


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But the comparison between the two parades stops there because, as far as style is concerned, nothing binds them. Over the past three seasons, the artistic director, Anthony Vaccarello, has sharpened a very clean Saint Laurent silhouette, that of a woman so elegant and sexy that she seems unreal, straight out of a film. She wears leather coats or jackets with square shoulders, which contrast with the fragility and lightness of transparent muslin dresses, blouses with ascots that float in the wind, her endless legs elongated by vertiginous pumps. For this collection, he pushes the cursor even further, with jackets with disproportionately broad shoulders, skirts slit so high that they seem to be worn upside down, tank tops cut so low that they reveal the belly.

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“I wanted to focus on elegance, even if it doesn’t really make sense today, and maybe it’s very good like that, that people have moved on, explains Anthony Vaccarello. I wanted to sketch out a daytime wardrobe, with skirt suits that Mr. Saint Laurent made a lot, but “twisting” them, making them a bit strange. » These magnetic women, who walk without a bag, but their gaze hidden by sunglasses, we do not meet them in real life. But, if it belongs to fashion to dream and make you want to have a little of this charisma provided by an outfit, then Saint Laurent has it all.

Saint Laurent


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