The biker look that opened the Jil Sander show on Friday night suggested Lucie and Luke Meier had changed gears with their latest co-ed effort. They paraded an edgier mix of urban attitude and couture accents, injecting some unpredictability into a brand with such a precise identity.
Yet the couple always manages to add a lyrical component into their approach, which is what really sets their tenure at the brand apart. In what they described as “a quite personal” collection, the Meiers reasoned on “why we do what we do” and went down memory lane to the mid- to late ‘90s, a formative period in their journey.
“I was in New York and Lucie was still in Europe. It felt like a really interesting time because you had a real beginning of sharing of things: a lot of information sharing, a lot of cultural mixture and, probably, most predominantly in music,” said Luke Meier backstage. He particularly referenced Björk, whose music was included in the show’s soundtrack, along with some choice LTJ Bukem.
The collection reflected the openness Meier mentioned by blurring boundaries between sportswear and tailoring; natural and synthetic; elongated and voluminous proportions; artisanal and digital embellishments.
Research into materials and techniques impacted the designs, such as sculptural leather pieces with embossed and padded details,or cut in couture-like silhouettes, graphic and especially appealing in rounded and hourglass shapes.
Overall, proportions were elongated and oversized, as seen in the tailored double-face coats and trousers, which the Meiers updated with zippers to expand their volumes and amplify a sense of ease. Ditto for windbreakers, anoraks and pants in lightweight technical fabrics, which added to the utilitarian vibe and looked great juxtaposed with sartorial coats, fuzzy sweaters with metallic effects and zebra prints. One mohair coat dipped in green fluorescent dye looked terrific and deceived guests with its “synthetic, almost a cotton-candy feeling,” as Meier put it.
The sugary reference was expressed more literally in the graphics of hard candies and cherries that were digitally printed on wool felt tops. They added a cheerful note to the lineup and were intended to evoke the ’90s, when “thinking about the future was a very positive thing, there was a lightness and a kind of enjoyment,” said Meier.
Holding on to that sense of optimism, the designers ended the show on a high note with a series of feminine dresses, including bubble shapes in checkered patterns and more fluid silk ones in floral motifs. The sight of an opulent white cotton dress covered in crushed aluminum flower embroideries and sequins sparked positive thinking faster than meditation.
MUMBAI, India — It was clear that Maria Grazia Chiuri, Christian Dior’s artistic director of women’s collections, has kicked off a new dialogue with the brand’s historic pre-fall 2023 show at the Gateway of India on Thursday night.
This dialogue resonated immediately in Mumbai with the familiarity of what was shown on the runway, in terms of color, technique, styles and silhouettes, all of which showed Chiuri’s affection and appreciation for India.
This also was apparent in the collaboration between Dior and Karishma Swali, who directs the Chanakya ateliers and the Chanakya School of Craft in MumbaI, which brought to life Chiuri’s love for embroidery and the craft of India.
The show — massive in featuring 99 styles — was unique in that many of the styles were created in collaboration concerning the choice of color palette, motifs, mirror work, sequins and crafts.
The models also had been chosen carefully, with 23 Indian models, 33 Indian models with international backgrounds and 43 international ones.
The choice of India for the show was the latest in Dior’s string of major undertakings, from the takeover of the facade of Harrods in London last holiday season to the men’s pre-fall show that illuminated the Pyramids of Giza last December.
“The choice of this destination is deeply linked to our shared history and passions,” said Delphine Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of Christian Dior Couture. “Our unwavering affinity with India, woven from the very beginnings of the house in 1947, and through the shows of Monsieur Dior’s various successors — from Marc Bohan to Maria Grazia Chiuri — has constantly been deployed in numerous creative dialogues combining innovation and ancestral heritage.”
That the dialogue opening up new spaces was also apparent in the symbolic location: The Gateway of India, which overlooks the Arabian Sea, is one of the city’s best-loved landmarks; the beautifully lit, iconic Taj Mahal hotel is across the road.
The symbolism of a new doorway was creatively taken a step further with the 46-foot “Toran,” a site-specific artwork just below the Gateway itself that was realized via a collaboration between the Chanakya Ateliers and Chanakya School of Craft. Women in India have crafted torans for centuries, decorating local fabric by using embroidery and patchwork as a way to welcome guests into their homes.
Chiuri lit up as she spoke about the Toran.
“It has been a dream of mine to create a toran for the show installation since I saw the one hanging at Nehal’s home in Mumbai,” she said of Nehal Shah, who is the director of Chanakya, and is Karishma’s brother. “The female artisans of the Chanakya School of Craft and the master artisans from the Chanakya Atelier handcrafted the toran as a communal activity, drawing on their own design vocabulary and each choosing which symbols of good fortune to integrate into the piece. They have worked together over several months, required 35,000 hours of handwork to complete this piece and employed 25 craft techniques including phulkari, mirror work, french knotting, and kantha.
“Elephants, mandalas, lotus, the kamadhenu, tigers, and peacocks adorn the beautiful Toran, welcoming guests and inviting them to discover India’s rich cultural heritage,” she said.
While the craft and embroidery enriched the easy, relaxed silhouettes that Chiuri favored in the collection, the Mumbai show gave the city and the Indian market a recognition that has long been coming.
It is also 60 years after Dior models traveled to Mumbai for the brand’s spring-summer 1962 couture show in collaboration with Air-India. It was sponsored by the Time and Talents Club, Femina and the Alliance Française in Mumbai in April 1962 when Dior was being designed by Marc Bohan.
While Chiuri took inspiration from those files, this show brought in different elements from her own life — the love for peplum, and the drape of the fabric around the body, knotting at the waist. Madras check and block printing made it to the runway, as did tigers, elephants and peacocks.
“We have to recognize what is high level quality,” Chiuri explained. “Couture is not only what is done in Milan or in Paris. In other countries you can find specific companies that are couture level background, like Chanakya — they are a couture brand. We have to recognize this, and change.”
Chiuri told WWD on Thursday that colors like the rani pink — a shade of pink that is particular to India, and popular — and jamuni (a shade of purple), as well as silhouettes that carried a splash of color that she said were inspired from the festival of Holi, were part of the palette that emerged from the collaboration with Karishma Swali.
Among the pieces that stood out was the mirror-studded opera jacket, taken to the next level with its fine fabric, keeping it light despite the mirrors, and the use of jali work with small mirrors, embedded pearls, the more ceremonial zardozi embroidery, and aari work (aari is both the name of the hook-shaped needle and a type of stitch created by looping the thread through stretched fabric using the hooked needle).
She also paid tribute to the past in other ways.
“Each collection I wanted to make an important reference, the love of the flower that Christian Dior and his sister Catherine Dior had, and this flower was made with different techniques. This season this is magnificent, because the school made a 3D flower. It is magnificent, it is a piece of art, made with organza,” she said.
The location for the show in Mumbai was opportune at a time when the luxury market in India is growing fast. But Chiuri’s excitement was clearly focused simply on the art, its creation, and perpetuation.
“Honestly, for me, this show is very personal, it’s not about markets,” she said. “Karishma and I met more than 25 years ago and wanted to explore and we have been doing that over the years, but really did that with this collection. Fashion sometimes is more concentrated on other elements, the shape, the color — less about textile, embroidery, thinking that is not so central. But it can be the driving force as well.”
Celebrities from across the world attended the show — Hollywood actors Yara Shahidi, Cara Delevingne, Freida Pinto, Maisie Williams, and Simone Ashley; Thai actors Mile Phakphum and Apo Nnattawin, and Bollywood stars including Sonam Ahuja Kapoor and Anushka Sharma with her husband, well known cricketeer Virat Kohli, as well as sitarist Anushka Shankar.
“In this moment we celebrated a great partnership,” said Chiuri, “and also incredible work that we did together. It is so important to celebrate the culture, the creativity that is in this country and the way we can try to move in the future. This is our goal.”
Alejandra Alonso Rojas, known for her signature handcrafted designs, is hosting a trunk show at Kirna Zabette at 943 Madison Avenue in New York that started Thursday and goes through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
On Saturday, Rojas will be at the store for cocktails from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., along with artist Philippine de Richemont, who will be customizing silk scarves for attendees.
Rojas met de Richemont, a painter in Paris, and commissioned her for a painting for her house. For Rojas’ spring 2023 show, she translated de Richemont’s work and joyful palette into her lineup of sensual knits and silk fashion.
“This event is very meaningful to me,” said the Madrid-born Rojas. “Kirna Zabete was the first designer store I came across when I moved to New York. Beth’s store was right across the street from my apartment,” she said, referring to Kirna Zabete owner Beth Buccini.
“Ten years later at her newest store on Madison Avenue, having the opportunity to present my collection in such a big way is a dream come true. We look forward to introducing the spring ’23 collection to shoppers and bringing the collection to life by gifting them a hand-painted scarf by artist and collaborator Philippine de Richemont,” said Rojas.
TECH SUSTAINABILITY: Maison du Dodo and its parent South Korean company Hyaloid Co. have launched in Milan a new proprietary fashion tech platform that combines social media, e-commerce and community.
The project was unveiled during a press conference that took place Thursday at Italian textile maker Vitale Barberis Canonico’s showroom, introduced by Hyaloid founder Hin Sang Hyun and chief executive officer Oh Sang Hyeon.
The platform will offer to brands, businesses, entities and personalities the possibility to create their own customized social and e-commerce application.
The platform will be available to all Hyaloid’s partner brands and influencers seeking to communicate directly with consumers.
In order to provide a very personalized experience, each app is highly customizable. Brands and users can change the layout and add videos, photos and music. In particular, they can add e-commerce functions, guaranteeing themselves a virtual flagship with a global reach.
Once launched, the app will enable content creators and users to sign in and create their own profiles called “My Room.”
The technology will also financially reward users for product and brand promotion — a sort of commission.
The more they promote the brands, the more users will be bestowed a badge, differentiating the level of authority in the system.
The platform will allow data to be fully available to the community.
Newly launched fashion brand Maison du Dodo will take part in the project with the aim of democratizing access to sustainable luxury products thanks to ethically sourced raw materials and low-carbon manufacturing processes.
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