Irish style sprinkled lightly over Paris Fashion Week as Dior opens with power-filled show

Deirdre McQuillan: Dior’s Of Bodies, Armour and Cages show featured model Alice McGrath from Omagh in Co Tyrone

Paris Fashion Week opened on Tuesday for autumn/winter 2024, with leading Irish fashion players in evidence.

Proceedings kicked off with Dior’s show Of Bodies, Armour and Cages, which was staged in a massively constructed white building in the Tuilerie Gardens, with entrances thronged with crowds of onlookers from all over the world. Models featuring included Alice McGrath from Omagh in Co Tyrone.

Another Irish connection with Dior is Dubliner and University College Dublin graduate James Deeny who was appointed international director of press and public relations at the storied house last October and who formerly worked with Kenzo, Dries Van Noten and KCD Communications in Paris.

Celebrities attending the Dior show included actors Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lawrence and Ben Mendelson, singers Rosalia and the South Korean Jisoo, with a huge entourage. Inside, an installation by Mumbai artist Shakuntala Kulkarni of caned cages shaped like body armour for women warriors and made by specialist Indian artisans drove home the idea of the fighting power of women.


The trouser suits that opened the collection made their own statement about the power and authority conventionally associated with masculine tailoring. But this was a show marking the birth of Miss Dior in 1967, the women’s line that introduced ready to wear for the first time and a visual culture that drew on the vibrant cultural forces of that period in architecture, art and music, an era held dear by Dior’s artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Skirts cut above the knee and a hot pants suit in leopard print were obvious references. Other suits in denim were slouchy and baggy while some in winter white with double-breasted jackets were more tailored affairs sported with stylish black fedoras. Little black dresses had silvered collars, coats were often variations of trenches but with elbow-length sleeves, while jackets were both bomber style and blouson.

Many items were emblazoned with oversized, graffiti-style Miss Dior signatures, appealing to those who like broadcasting logos in this way. Some of the best two pieces were simple A line tunics worn over slim trousers in tweed, windowpane check or sheer fabrics on models with slicked-back chignons and shades.

What made an impact were the accessories – black gladiator-style open back strapped knee and ankle boots, Mary Janes, neat Miss Dior clutches and studded berets. The elegant evening wear – fringed gold and silver dresses and long Grecian gowns that glittered with embroidery – were worn with flip flops for any easy stride. Apart from one cabled vest and a chunky sweater, there was surprisingly little knitwear.

The House of Dior is currently in the news with the release of The New Look, the Apple TV series exploring Paris during the war years following the careers of Christian Dior and Gabrielle Chanel, played by Ben Mendelson and Juliette Binoche. Some of the runway costumes from Dior’s famous 1947 first defile, which Irishwoman Carmel Snow (played by Glenn Close in the series), editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar, famously dubbed “The New Look”. are currently on display in La Galerie Dior until May 13th.

Elsewhere all eyes will be on Sean McGirr, the Dublin-born designer who will be launching his highly anticipated first collection for Alexander McQueen on Saturday. In the meantime, the independent Irish designer Róisín Pierce who has become known for her innovative and boundary-pushing craft techniques in crochet and lace, will present her second collection in Paris called O Lovely One at the Irish Embassy on Friday.

The only Irish designer showing in Paris under her own name, Pierce’s craftsmanship has been acknowledged by Comme des Garcons as the latest designer to join the brand development division of their Dover Street Market Paris. She describes it “a thrilling step which balances our creative vision with the growth of our business and will introduce our pieces to a new global audience”. The partnership begins with this winter 2024 collection with production support starting in 2025.