Dior and Betak revive the spirit of May '68 in Paris
Revolutionary fervour lives on in the fashion house's latest womenswear show, produced by Bureau Betak
It was 50 years ago this spring that students in Paris staged a series of anti-authoritarian protests we now refer to as May '68. These, in turn, spurned a volatile period of civil unrest punctuated by demonstrations and general strikes as well as the occupation of universities and factories across France, bringing the country's economy to a virtual halt. May '68 had an impact on French society that resounded for decades and is considered to this day as a cultural, social and moral turning point in the history of the country.
To mark the anniversary year, and to capture something of the latter-day mood of protest, Alexandre de Betak, the world's greatest fashion-show producer, collaged and pasted together 3,000 posters, photographs and magazine tears onto the set for Dior's autumn/winter 2018 show, which took place at the Musée Rodin, Paris this week.
But although the collection, overseen by Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior's creative director, is inspired by May '68, the clothes aren’t 60s throwbacks, but instead lively, contemporary interpretations of protest and gender freedom.
"Magnificent woollen embroideries appear on organza dresses," explains the fashion house "jeans are reworked and printed, bags are inspired by the House’s archives, with an ethnic shoulder strap or patchworks made of fabrics drawn from the same heritage: these pieces become veritable windows on the world. Ponchos are worn freely."
Bureau Betak employed 150 people to build the set over a three-week period. The collage includes original May '68 protests, as well as pages from Vogue, and a series of feminist slogans.