Dior returns to catwalk in Paris on a socially-distanced runway

Paris: Christian Dior kicked off Paris Fashion Week in earnest on Tuesday with a socially-distanced runway show as models paraded around an art installation recalling Gothic-style stained-glass windows to a live choir performance.

Fashion brands are hesitantly returning to the catwalk after holding off for many months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Paris' fashion week, which runs until Oct. 6, will include a mix of physical and digital events.

At Dior, guests wore face masks and were given temperature checks, with crowds limited to 300 rather than the 800 to 1,000 the label, owned by LVMH, would normally invite.

The COVID-19 crisis also influenced the collection, womenswear designer Maria Grazia Chiuri said, including with the looser, flowing lines of some outfits meant to "support us, to feel better".

Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The label's normally structured and cinched classic Bar jackets got a softer makeover, while some looks came with a Japanese twist, including kimono-like spring coats, in an array of paisley prints, tie-dye stripes or floral patterns.

The styles contained nods to female figures or writers, including a couple of long, buttoned up white shirts, a style Susan Sontag has been pictured in.

"This social distance in some way doesn't help us to have a dialogue with the other," Chiuri said in an interview. "So probably it's also for that that I want this dialogue with other women, I don't want to close myself in a room, to stay alone."

Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

A mix of materials, including Indonesian ikat fabrics, also echoed the "collage" theme, as did the illuminated windows of the decor by Italian artist Lucia Marcucci, containing a patchwork of photos and newspaper clippings.

Some celebrities welcomed the low key nature of the show.

Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

"I actually feel this new environment that we've created with more space and more respect for one another – I actually think that it's a much more pleasant way of viewing the shows, and consuming art," said "Games of Thrones" actress Maisie Williams.

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