West News Wire: Dior’s old-school spring couture collection of classical classicism was inspired by the groundbreaking Black singer Josephine Baker, who left the United States to discover international acclaim in Paris in the 1920s.

Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri may not have invented the wheel on the opening day of Paris Fashion Week on Monday, but she definitely adorned it brilliantly with her caressing velvets and silks, embroideries, sequins, and tiny silver studs.

The first day of the event, however, wasn’t without controversy as Dior came under fire for bringing a Russian influencer who had been sanctioned by Ukraine. Furthermore, Schiaparelli came under fire online for glorifying trophy hunting after using a fake lion’s head in one of his designs.

Lining the perfume-scented interiors of an annex inside the Rodin Museum gardens were giant images by African-American artist Mickalene Thomas of Josephine Bake alongside other Black American female icons.

The stark tableaux photographs documented Baker’s extraordinary life and her many roles: as member of the French Resistance, civil rights activist and humanist as well as dancer and performer.

Guests took their seats, curious and excited.

According to Dior, a series of coats, a take on bathrobe styles depicted “the cozy, intimate dressing room that precedes (Baker’s) entrance on stage.” In couture terms they were undeniably beautiful, if somewhat restrained. The first came in silk velvet; its black diamond lapels hung with a dramatic weight. It was worn over delicately smocked satin swimwear in a take on the 1950s. Elsewhere, knit-like mesh made of silk and steel beads cut a fine vintage style on one ensemble, while also evoking a quiet female power. It was worn on a gleaming, crushed velvet evening robe to suggest intimacy.

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Later, Chiuri slightly let her hair down and got her fringe on. Baker’s heyday was evoked in a steel beaded mesh skirt trimmed with sparkling fringe.

A limp red dress, with sinews revealing inches of flesh, resembled a poisonous sea creature, while interlocking circles evoked spiky but precious coral. Billowing blue and silver portions of generous fabric on a gown flowed like an underwater generous  touching on the signature organic inspiration from the award-winning couturier who has designed for artists such as Bjork.


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