Dior says it with wildflowers and Greta Thunberg plaits

Paris (AFP) –


Dior went back to nature in its Paris fashion week show Tuesday with Greta Thunberg plaits and a garden-inspired collection that seemed to spring straight from the earth.

With climate change biting at the heels of the fashion industry, and the London shows hit by environmental protests, designer Maria Grazia Chiuri said she wanted to create clothes that "were not just about image but action".

To do that she embraced the wild, with hemp gardening jackets and a series of stunning diaphanous dresses embroidered with wildflowers.

These were not the dainty pink roses of Dior yore but sinuous survivors, thistles and other prickly customers flowering on stoney ground.

Most of her models also wore their hair in plaits not dissimilar to those of the teenage Swedish environmental activist Thunberg.

Three of the most striking looks bore the ghostly prints of real wildflowers, gathered and applied by an artist who has mastered the natural technique.

The Italian designer also pushed the couture boundaries by using hemp and raffia in eye-catchingly unusual ways, with a layered raffia ballgown and flower-embroidered raffia waistcoats.

All was set in what Chiuri called an "inclusive garden" of 160 trees, their roots wrapped in hemp, which will all be replanted in urban gardens being designed around the French capital by environmental architects, Coloco.

Chiuri told AFP that her inspiration had come from Christian Dior's sister Catherine, a French Resistance hero who became the first female flower wholesaler in Paris -- and who farmed her own roses in the Luberon in the south of France.

- Resistance hero -

The couturier's first perfume, Miss Dior, was named after her, and Chiuri felt her legacy had been a little forgotten.

Catherine ran a Resistence intelligence gathering network from Dior's Paris apartment during the German Nazi Occupation of France.

When she was arrested, she refused to betray her comrades despite being tortured by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp.

Chiuri said she was struck by a phrase of Christian Dior's after the war, "Fortunately there are the flowers" -- which she took as a sign of hope after the dark days of World War II.

"Flowers and humans need to live together if humanity is to survive," she told AFP.

"The important issue for everybody, not just in fashion, is to be more responsible about what we do," she said.

"It is not just about image but action... the important issue for everybody, not just fashion, is to be more responsible about what we do," she added.

The rising young French designer Marine Serre had warned that the environmental "apocalypse is already here" in her earlier show which she called "Black Tide", a pop at the pollutors of the plastics and petrochemical industries.

- 'Witch-hunt atmosphere' -

She upcycled old curtains, sheets and table linen into outfits for the "survivors" of the impending calamity, though she left a note of hope by including a pregnant model, the second of the day in the spring summer shows.

Meanwhile designer Anthony Vaccarello complained about the "witch-hunt atmosphere" of our times before his typically dark, moody and sexed-up Saint Laurent show.

The Belgian-born designer has come in for heavy criticism from feminists for his "sexist and demeaning" advertising campaigns, although sales have risen by a quarter.

With Dior these days making almost as many headlines with its hats, Chiuri topped all her looks with a spray of straw hats by the British millinery guru Stephen Jones.

Jones told AFP that his "eyes lit up" when he came across a recently discovered gardening hat that Catherine Dior gave her brother, and drew many of his designs from it.