Powerhouses Dior and Saint Laurent set the bar high at the start of Paris fashion week, showcasing two incredible collections from two of the world’s most successful companies.
These uber fashion houses do not waver or do presentations by halves, with expensive sets and production prowess that only come from a storied history and an unrivalled status. One is LVMH-owned, the other Kering, but here ends the juxtaposition, as designers Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior and Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent each know how to deliver, and then some.
Baroque at Dior
At Dior, Catherine de’Medici, the only woman to have ruled France, inspired a baroque collection that was heavy on lace, corsetry, raffia, embroidery and black. Catherine, after being widowed, spent thirty years dressed in nothing but black, earning her the nickname the ‘Black Queen’. Like Ms Chiuri, Catherine was born Italian, and this collection was a dialogue between France and Italy, amalgamating the historical with the modern age. The opening look set the tone: a bra-top worn over a heavy floral lace skirt and platform shoes. De Medici is credited with introducing lingerie and platforms to France. Chiuri modernised them.
At Saint Laurent, the setting in Paris Trocadero came replete with a paved garden, giant fountain, sweeping staircases and splendid view of the Eiffel Tower. The limestone had the appearance to be decennia-old, worn by centuries of weather and history.
Statuesque at Saint Laurent
Vaccarello narrowed in on one, columnar, silhouette. Long, lean and sensual, fitted ankle-length robes were exquisitely draped and cut. Some came with hoods, some were sheer, others executed in heavier gauge fabrics, worn under equally sweeping coats. There was volume in the shoulder and a nipped-in waist, but mostly there was fluidity in cut, letting the draping and fabric shape the body.
Vaccarello needed only 49 looks to cement his vision, when so often ready-to-wear houses showcase 80-plus exits. The colour palette was as tight as the edit: marvellous purples and olives featured alongside black, taupe, camel and crimson. Jewel tones came in accessories, accentuating the statuesque with oversized drop down earrings and giant golden cuffs.
There was nothing superfluous here but design at its most potent. Vaccarello has often shown he is a master in dressing the nightclub generation, but he can also drape the body to look its most powerful.