Dior fuses ’60s spirit, women’s lib at Paris Fashion Week

AP Photo
The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) — Eighty-three shows on the calendar, talent coming in from over 20 countries and jet-setting celebrities flocking into the French capital can only mean one thing: It’s time for Paris Fashion Week.

Here are the highlights of the ready-to-wear spring-summer 2018 collections Tuesday in the City of Light.

DIOR’S SIXTIES GIRL POWER

Delving into the Dior archives, designer Maria Grazia Chiuri came back armed with photos of sculptress Niki de Saint Phalle — one of the few successful female artists in the male-dominated 1960s’ art world and a muse for then-Dior designer Marc Bohan.

The inspiration of this artistic trailblazer spawned Tuesday’s Dior collection at Paris Fashion Week: the Sixties fused with the spirit of women’s lib.

Boho denim flares, lace-up square heel boots, Breton stripes and knee-high stockings accompanied berets and long fine scarves tied with a knot. These mixed with ’60s optical art black-and-white checks that were used effectively in kinetic uber-mini coat dresses.

There were indeed some beautiful moments.

Saint Phalle’s colorful sculptures were evoked in a series of color-blocked, architectural “scuba” looks in cobalt blue, black, white and yellow — shapes tight around the body in the ’60s style.

Still, it was a mixed bag at Dior, with some overly busy silhouettes. Looks with multiple layers, sheer sections on skirts, applique text, contrasting fabrics and fastidious detailing were just a little too distracting.

___

NAOMI WATTS, THE FEMINIST

Bianca Jagger, Eva Herzigova, Alexa Chung and Natalia Vodianova all drew plenty of photographers as they entered Dior’s show Tuesday at Rodin Museum. But it was the tardy Naomi Watts who drew the most attention in an embellished Dior lace bodice dress with semi-sheer tulle pleats.

The 48-year-old Australian was very on-message with Dior’s feminist vibe while talking to The Associated Press.

“It’s a very good time for women, I feel. It’s about going out there and getting it,” Watts said.

The star of this year’s “Twin Peaks” reboot was seated next to a copy of feminist historian Linda Nochlin’s pioneering 1971 article “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” that was provided thoughtfully by the house.

There has been a marked shift in celebrating feminism since Chiuri last year became Dior’s first female designer.

“Absolutely, it’s important to have female designers. No one knows the female anatomy out there more than a woman. It’s exciting to see Maria Grazia’s new show,” Watts said.

But Watts, who’s had a busy schedule of late with roles in the series “Gypsy” as well as the David Lynch reboot, was also in Paris to relax.

“I’m here with my friends. We’re here to enjoy the city. Enjoy the clothes. Enjoy the whole experience,” she said.

___

JACQUEMUS’ ODE TO HIS MOTHER

It was a love story in homage to a glamorous mother.

In a show brimming with joy,27-year-old French designer Simon Porte Jacquemus dedicated his retro spring-summer 2018 collection to the style of his late mother, who died a decade ago.

Her death hit while he was a teenager and spurned him on to launch his own fashion house at the tender age of 20. He named it Jacquemus — her maiden name.

In Monday’s collection in the grand Picasso Museum, clothes exuded elegant sexual confidence and riffed on beach styles from the 1950s. A retro off-white bodice top sported large black polka dots against a surreally oversized straw sun hat with a stylish curl at one side.

Indeed, deceptively-simple curls, twists, drapes and gatherings in the fabric were ubiquitous in the thoughtful clothes, betraying a real skill in construction.

With a floppy oversize cuff detail, a diaphanous skirt in pale yellow that was draped on the diagonal evoked a shirt his mother might have tied loosely around her waist.

Hips were emphasized in tonal dresses that were gathered from the midriff or in loosely slung sarong-styles. Retro micro handbags looked like the playthings a child might have to emulate their mother.

___

ANREALAGE’S STRAPS

It was an extravaganza in pastel — ruched, gathered and bound.

The fashion-forward house of Tokyo designer Kunihiko Morinaga has built up a huge fan base in Japan for its intellectual designs and original use of techno-fabrics. This was on full display Tuesday as Morinaga used strapping, in tonal or contrasting colors, to bind loose silhouettes to the models’ body.

It began with the baroque — billowing sleeves and high collars on silken fabric dresses in exaggerated proportions — and the occasional jumpsuit. They were, of course, paired with on-trend white banded sneakers.

At times, crisscross strapping evoked an almost kinky, exo-skeleton restraining the body— such as in a peach, knee-length dress with a gray lattice exterior.

The show was highly original.

___

PINK TREND ALERT

The color pink has — so far — been heralded as the color of the season.

But fashion editors generally agree that Paris Fashion Week has the ultimate say in what going to be a trend, so all eyes are on the French capital’s runway collections to see if this continues.

On the first day of shows in Paris, pink made a moderate splash.

A pink pastel ruched gown opened the collection for Anrealage with gowns that continued in pastel shades with a dash of fuchsia.

And one of Dior’s nicest looks was a floor-length baby pink sheer silk gown tied at the waist with a pink bow.

___

Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K

.