PARIS -- Dior came out with all feminist guns blazing at Paris fashion week Tuesday seeking to catch the spirit of #MeToo and the new wave of female empowerment.
Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, who began her reign at the French couture house with the now cult $680 T-shirt, "We Should All be Feminists", summoned up the spirit of 1968, the year when social and sexual revolutions swept the planet.
Chiuri's muse, British model and women's rights advocate Ruth Bell, led the line with a black and white woollen jumper declaring, "Non, non, non et non!"
"It is not bad to say 'No! No! No!' sometimes," the designer told AFP after the show, "Feminism means freedom, freedom to dress how you want, to define yourself."
To the thumping "Ooh, I just know that something good is gonna happen" refrain to Kate Bush's classic song "Cloudbusting", the Italian sent out a hippy and Beatnik-inspired autumn-winter collection, declaring that "changing the world also means changing clothes".
"Women's Rights Are Human Rights" slogans burst from the walls of the set which was papered with 1968 Vogue magazine covers, with Chiuri picking up on a "fun" demonstration women activists staged outside Dior's boutique in London two years earlier.
'Mini skirt protest'
The "British Society for the Protection of Mini Skirts" picketed the shop after Dior failed to include a single mini skirt in its collection that year.
The protest prompted its then designer Marc Bolan to cave in and create the younger more "with it" Miss Dior line.
Chiuri said she was struck how the "Youthquake" that legendary US Vogue editor Diana Vreeland wrote about in the late 1960s mirrored our times.
"She wrote that there is a new generation who are changing our view about sexuality about women and about men. In some ways (what is happening) now is another moment like this," the designer added.
And she credits sparring with her own 21-year-old daughter, Rachele Regini -- who she jokingly calls "Miss No" -- with helping to sharpen her view. "The younger generation are posing us a lot of questions," she said.
With actresses Cara Delevingne and Isabelle Huppert in the front row, Chiuri went on a magical mystery tour of late 1960s radical chic.
Having helped bring the beret back into vogue by having all her models wear one at her last autumn-winter show, this time Chiuri did the same for another piece of classic French headgear, the gavroche cap.
But the core of the collection was a line of sumptuous patchwork coats, skirts, trousers, dresses and boots inspired by her southern Italian grandmother.
Another of Chiuri's favourite models, the British activist Adwoa Aboah, closed the show in a wool-embroidered organza dress.
Chiuri said she shortened her kilts and dresses but none of them could really be called a mini-skirt, and her line of hippy-dippy scarf dresses all dipped below the knee.
Saint Laurent's killer vamps
Saint Laurent's Anthony Vaccarello, on the other hand, loves the leggy look. Despite the freezing Paris temperatures his female models wore the merest of black leather mini-skirts, shorts and dresses at his outdoor show opposite the Eiffel Tower -- although some at least got to wear shin-high fur-topped boots.
The men in his co-ed show were more fortunate, with several wearing coats, as the Belgian sent a procession of chilly ultra-sexy black-clad killer vamps down the runway, some in broad-brimmed fedora hats.
Vaccarello leavened his rainbow of black at the end with a line of short shoulder-padded floral pattern dresses on a black base.
Earlier, young French designer Marine Serre made her Paris fashion week debut with her "FutureWear" show, mixing sportswear and vintage, and also a line of hippish scarf dresses.
Her occasional skin-hugging head-coverings also stood out, conjuring up images of divers, or with her crescent moon logo, luge-riding Muslim women at the Winter Olympics.
Like Dior, which featured a number of check suits, young French label Jour/ne mixed richly coloured velvets and tartans, giving a highly wearable twist to vaguely vintage male silhouettes.
© Agence France-Presse