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Dior’s Mount Olympus: A sporty couture homage to the Paris Games


PARIS (AP) — Dior staged an homage to sport on the eve of the Paris Olympics on the grounds of the Musée Rodin on the first day of Paris Couture Week on Monday.

The show let the sumptuous, lightweight silks — georgette, taffeta, tulle, and sporty jersey — speak for themselves, draped elegantly over the body.

Here are some highlights of the fall-winter 2024 collections:

Athletes old and new

The walls were lined with dazzling artworks of athletes by Faith Ringgold, a feminist artist who died in April. Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri used fall’s couture as a stage “to pay a fitting tribute to all athletes … from antiquity to the present day.”

On the runway, Grecian-style draping evoked the original Olympics. The nod to antiquity echoed the Italian designer’s penchant for historical influences.

Jersey fabric, an unconventional couture material, was handled poetically. It cascaded down the model’s body in loose, fluttery segments, with a twin leather belt to define the waist.

Mosaic embroidery on skin-tight tank tops added a contemporary twist, seeming to sculpt the bust. Sandals adorned with pearls sported crisscross straps up the leg.

The nicest looks were the simplest. An ecru lightweight wool gown seemed like a single whoosh of fabric, hanging whimsically and loosely from the shoulders. It had an unexpected cowl back. This simplicity with an element of surprise is quintessential Chiuri, who has said she often finds elegance in restraint.

Serena Williams marveled and applauded from the front row.

Van Herpen breaks the mold

Iris van Herpen presented her couture as sculptures in what the house called a “profound shift” in the Dutch designer’s trajectory.

“For a long time I’ve been working on expanding people’s perception of how fashion and art can be symbiotic,” van Herpen said. She compared her techniques in couture, such as draping directly on the mannequin, to sculpting.

“Even though we call one practice ‘haute couture’ and the other ‘art,’ to me, it’s one universe,” she said.

Van Herpen unveiled her collection amid her new large-scale, monumental pieces at a “hybrid" show. They were crafted with innovative techniques on tulle surfaces and suspended via steel tubes.

While preparing her retrospective in Paris' Musée des Arts Décoratifs that recently closed, van Herpen realized a longstanding ambition to delve into sculpture and painting. Her new works, developed over a year, reconnect with nature and the freedom of slowing down. Her move to a tranquil residence outside Amsterdam fostered this idea.

“The little transformations that happen every day fiercely inspire me,” she said.

The fall couture dovetailed with similar themes. Gravity-defying, slowed-down silhouettes and ethereal draping embraced the couturier’s signature three-dimensional printing and silk folding. The Umwelt and Aeromorphosis gowns featured a gradient of pearls mimicking cyclonic sculptures, while the transparent Ataraxy dress, sculpted with a heat gun, captured the sense of floating away. They held a Renaissance-like feel.

Honoring Japanese craftsmanship, the Sensorium dress was crafted from obi fabric, which evoked a sense of spirituality and peace.