PARIS — The pioneering Black performer Josephine Baker — who left the United States to find global fame in Paris in the 1920s — was Dior’s muse for an old school spring couture collection of archetypal classicism.
With her caressing velvets and silks, embroideries, sequins and tiny silver studs, designer Maria Grazia Chiuri may not have reinvented the wheel, but she certainly embellished it beautifully on the first of Paris Fashion Week.
Yet the event’s first day wasn’t without controversy after Dior was criticized for inviting a Russia influencer sanctioned by Ukraine and Schiaparelli was the subject of online ire for glamorizing trophy hunting after featuring a fake lion’s head.
Glamorous frivolity, exaggerated silhouettes and surreal takes on classics harking from the 1930s heyday of house founder Elsa Schiaparelli.
That was the mood at the first spring-summer couture show of the season — and what a start! — with its lashings of gold, intricate embellishments and rollcall of front row VIPs inside the lofty gilded atrium of the Petit Palais.
Designer Daniel Roseberry was on top form Monday — taking classical styles and giving them unexpected twists. A dark tuxedo with stiff oversize shoulders was transformed into a minimalist, space-age jumpsuit.
A bronze bustier reimagined as a giant oyster shell rose up like a fan that obscured the model’s face. Its incredible pearl embellishments were rendered in organic, crystallized layers showing off the deftness of the house atelier.
Myriad embellished baubles — almost resembling wet pearls — organically dripped off a blown-up bolero jacket that cut a beautiful silhouette, and had perhaps belonged to some underwater princess.
Yet the collection was also reverential to the house founder whose unique brand of frivolity charmed audiences around the world. A giant lion’s head — replete with fangs and bushy mane — modeled by Irina Shayk added a bite to this collection. It was an inventive nod to Surrealism — but also a statement about the absurdity of the use of fur.
Kylie Jenner, who sat front row at Schiaparelli also wearing a 3-D lion’s head and a gold snakeskin bag, was later criticized online amid accusations of glamorizing animal cruelty.