PARIS: Dior led Paris fashion week on a sensual dance Monday with a spectacular show woven around a new modern dance piece by choreographer Sharon Eyal to kick off the nine-day extravaganza.
Icily restrained models brushed past writhing dancers in a performance specially created by the acclaimed Israeli in a fog of mist and falling paper petals.
Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri told AFP that using dance was "an act of liberation" to break free from the catwalk corset.
She said she wanted to replicate dance´s "rigorous discipline and extreme freedom" in a striking collection full of flesh tones and nifty headwear.
Pirouetting deftly from Martha Graham-style robes fit for Greek goddesses to elongated tutus and hip-hop tank tops, the Italian blurred the lines between ready-to-wear and haute couture.
Chiuri, a committed feminist and the first woman to lead the fabled French house, said her clothes were not about "bodily perfection but about flexibility and strength of movement."
And she insisted that like each dancer, every look was individual. "It is about liberty. There are none of the sequences you usually get in fashion shows, each look is for each model."
Channelling the ghosts of dance greats like Isadora Duncan and Pina Bausch, Chiuri said she was trying to capture the "powerful explosion of the female imagination".
The show -- in a specially built auditorium at the Longchamps race course on the edge of Paris -- was a hymn to the carnal and the fleshly human, she told AFP.
"These days everything seems virtual but we do things by hand in our workshops. All the floral printing the tye dye is done by hand, it´s couture, it´s not industrial."
With all the billowing dry ice, the designer also wanted to frustrate the front row Instagram queens who spend their time snapping the shows rather than looking at the clothes.
"People miss the moment because they are spending their time taking photos with their phones. I wanted them to experience a show differently... to feel it," she added.
"It is dance and a fashion show, it is not a traditional catwalk experience at all."
Even so Chiuri -- who is known for her sharp eye for accessories -- appeared to have hit the social media bullseye with her skin-tone square front-window sun glasses and "CD" (for Christian Dior) belt buckles that were being shared on Instagram within minutes.
The designer began with typically austere and ethereal monochrome black and white tulle dresses before sending out a shimmering run of skin-tone looks followed by muted greens, greys, ivory and navy blues.
Fishnet and embroidered dresses and tights ran through a sizeable slice of the collection that was as also strong on classily muted florals, tye dye and restrained ethnic edging.
The woman who has helped make the French beret hip again created a new feather-light version for spring and summer as well as more tight-fitting skull caps with British hat designer Stephen Jones, also wrapping her models heads in two rounds of taupe-coloured ribbon.
Chiuri finished by giving the classic 1950s New Look Dior fitted jacket a radical chic upgrade, matching it with combat trousers and even bleached denim trousers.
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