Pioneering black performer Josephine Baker, who left the United States to find world fame in Paris in the 1920s, was Dior’s muse for an old-fashioned spring couture collection of archetypal classicism.
With her caressing velvets and silks, embroideries, sequins and tiny silver studs, designer Maria Grazia Chiuri may not have reinvented the wheel, but she certainly embellished it beautifully on the first day of January 23 of the Paris Fashion Week.
Still, the first day of the event was not without controversy after Dior was criticized for inviting a Ukrainian-sanctioned Russian influencer. Additionally, Schiaparelli has come under fire online for glorifying trophy hunting after he presented a fake lion’s head.
Lining the scented interiors of an annex inside the gardens of the Rodin Museum were giant images of African-American artist Mickalene Thomas de Baker alongside other black American female icons.
Photographs of austere tableaux have documented Baker’s extraordinary life and her many roles: as a member of the French Resistance, a civil rights activist and humanist as well as a dancer and performer.
Although the theme created an anticipation, the Dior garments themselves could offer a powerful exploration of racism or being black, the collection itself remained very Parisian. It was just a veiled tribute to the black trailblazer who fought battles against race, gender and nationality all her life.
That being said, it was admirable to see how many models of color walked the runway – in more than half of the 60 looks – especially since Paris Fashion Week and the luxury industry as a whole have been grappling with persistent accusations of being white-centric. .
Dior has drawn online criticism for extending an invitation to a Paris couture show to a Russian TV presenter called Yana Rudkovskaya, who was sanctioned by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on January 15 for her ties to Russian President Vladimir Cheese fries. Other houses reportedly refused to allow Rudkovskaya, who is an influencer, to appear on their shows.
Rudkovskaya posted a photo of her Dior couture invite on Instagram. Some journalists have asked how many “other sanctioned Russians frequent Parisian Haute Couture?”