Dior and Saint Laurent play power games in Paris


On Tuesday, something funny happened while passing through the Tuileries.

At one end of the Grand Allée – the view stretching from the Louvre and the IM Pei glass pyramid on one side to the obelisk in Place de la Concorde on the other, leading from the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe and further afield at La Défense and its own Grande Arche – a sort of new monument had materialized. Blocking the view from either side, the giant white tent appeared like a stranded juggernaut, towering over the landscape.

A single word on the facade justified his position: Dior.

Before the pandemic, there were always tents for fashion week at the Tuileries. But they have historically been relegated to the fringes, so as not to interrupt the flow of human circulation, or to hinder the sweep of history represented by this particular vision. Not anymore.

As a metaphor and an attempt to be part of the continuum of power, it doesn’t get much clearer than that.

Outside the tent, howling hordes obstructed the entire dirt-covered courtyard, pushing back any attempts at social distancing and trampling on all Covid protocols, fighting to spot Jisoo from South Korean girl group Blackpink, an ambassador. Dior. The guests looked at each other nervously.

Was it a step forward or backward?

It’s the question of the moment in fashion, as in just about everything, especially after an Italian season where many brands seemed to have been cryonically frozen.

That was certainly the question of the Dior show, where Maria Grazia Chiuri, artistic director of women’s clothing, was inspired by 1961 and the revolutionary “slim look” collection by then-Dior designer Marc Bohan. Take inspiration from stylish miniskirt combinations with cropped jackets in traffic light tones, color changes, little black dresses and neat trench coats. Also Mary Jane square toe and patent leather go-go boots.

At first glance, the effect was deeply retro, except that previously Ms. Chiuri had been stuck in a Bar jacket buckle – and this particular piece of clothing dates from 1947. So it was actually kind of a liberation.

Much like the fact that the designer put both her sheer tuxedo shirts, paired with vinyl minis splashed with graphic representations of jungle cats from the toile de Jouy, and her shiny organza evening dresses on bodysuits. nude, rather than letting them flash the breasts or the underwear underneath. .

Ms Chiuri defined her term in part by focusing on an at times excruciatingly obvious and slogan-dependent feminism, but it was one of the most genuinely feminist gestures she has made. Like the sneaky fashion commentary implicit in the set by 85-year-old Italian artist Anna Paparatti who framed the show and was titled “The Silly Game,” this represents progress.

(The brief transition to silk boxing shorts and bra tops, on the other hand, felt like an instinctive nod to the athleisure-forever litany of the pandemic. Even though it’s true that everyone world probably felt the urge to hit a bag punch every now and then.)

Meanwhile, heading for the boudoir: Koché, where designer Christelle Kocher added a touch of nightie to her signature opulence jumpsuit – she’s also the artistic director of couture feather specialist Maison Lemarié – and sportswear via spun sugar sequin pajama sets and boardshorts, with organza pants and coats lined with nylon mesh. It made sense – she was introducing a limited-edition unisex collaboration with Tinder, after all – as did Asoke’s striped parting layers, swirling silk fringes, prismatic checks, and easy Kenneth Ize geometry, suggesting the promise of luminosity. future. And in Courrèges, new designer Nicolas Di Felice has thankfully avoided the more worn-out space age references for the occasional silver thigh-high boots, architectural outerwear and sleeveless cocktail dresses, a panel fluttering like a flag.

But then came Saint Laurent. Designer Anthony Vaccarello staged his show, as before Covid, at the foot of the Trocadero at sunset, with the Eiffel Tower rising like an exclamation point (and another implied display of power) just across the way. of the Seine.

The models staggered onto a temporary concrete runway that had been submerged in water for no apparent reason, wearing Tribute platform heels with stiletto heels so high they looked more like pins. There were blouson dresses with large V-necks and ram shoulders; bodysuits with halter or bandeau or bra tops; high waist flared jeans with short jackets and leotards; more combinations; and see-through camisoles speckled with rhinestones over evening taffeta skirts.

The lips were crimson and the sunglasses were dark. The clothes were black, white and red with occasional flashes of bright purple, orange or blue. There were roses and rose prints. Sometimes a turban. Leather gloves. Bags tucked into the belts of the belts. And lots and lots of big gold jewelry.

The benchmark was, according to the show’s notes, Paloma Picasso, an original YSL intimate and a woman of great “independence of mind.” It was seen in the shoulders and the hues, the jewelry and the denim, which were undeniably cool. Mr. Vaccarello has a sharp hand with a jacket.

These spandex sausage casings, however, served mostly to reveal every bone in the bodies of the hungry models – even in the bodies of the older women on the street involved. (Note to designers: two of many older models read more like a waterfall than an inclusion.) The shoes were so high you could practically see the tight jaws and the sway. Rather than suggesting confidence, they telegraphed nervousness and the idea that women are simply subject to the whims of a designer. It became more and more painful to watch.

Since joining Saint Laurent in 2016, Mr. Vaccarello has been adept at crossing the fine line between shameless, even transgressive, sexuality and sexism; to flirt in a seductive way with the atmosphere Helmut Newton. There has been a lot of talk lately about the return of sex. But it felt more like exploitation than emancipation or empowerment.

This is not the right place.

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