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Dior and Saint Laurent bring contrasting feminisms to Paris

Christian Dior mocked sexist stereotypes while Saint Laurent was inspired by female pioneers at their Paris Fashion Week shows on Tuesday.

Dior designer Maria Grazia Chiuri was coming off a PR coup after dressing Queen Camilla in a billowing midnight-blue silk dress for the state dinner at Versailles earlier this month.

“I'm very happy to have had this chance. These are historic moments,” Chiuri told AFP of her royal appointment. 

For her new ready-to-wear collection, she plastered the walls with fake ads playing on sexist slogans from the past, such as “Save your marriage – iron properly” and “Put on a stunning makeup to make up with your man”.  

Dior took aim at sexist stereotypes for its latest show in Paris. Video: Agnes Coudurier/AFPTV/AFP

The Italian designer said the clothes were inspired by the “world of witches, and stereotypes around them from our childhood, as well as the stereotypical image of Parisian women”.

“These stories influence the way we see ourselves,” she added. 

Among the stars in the front row were actors Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert Pattinson. 

Despite the bright fuchsia and yellow backdrop of the show, the outfits were largely sombre with comfortable, breezy items alongside straight masculine jackets, pleated skirts and plenty of knitwear.

Dior's emblematic mille-fleurs motif was transformed into a contrasting floral X-ray in black and white. 

“I like to give this idea of evanescence through fabrics,” Chiuri said. 

Models present creations for Saint Laurent during the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2024 in Paris on September 26. Photo: Julien De Rosa/AFPModels present creations for Saint Laurent during the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2024 in Paris on September 26. Photo: Julien De Rosa/AFP

Later, Saint Laurent took a different approach to feminism, with a typically opulent nighttime show under the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower. 

Creative director Anthony Vaccarello doubled down on his taste for 1980s glamour, with big shoulders and tightly belted waists, and lots of aviator shades – this time, even adding the Top Gun theme song Take My Breath Away to the soundtrack. 

But there were also safari suits and cargo trousers, with Vaccarello saying he was inspired by pioneering women such as Amelia Earhart and Adrienne Bolland who had “infiltrated domains previously considered exclusively male, such as aviation and automobile racing”. 

The pallette was all burnished gold, ochre and maroon on shimmering dresses, razor-sharp heels and impossibly thin models.