The fabric followed the models’ every motion, moving as fluidly as the ocean water the goddess (and therefore the quintessential Di Petsa woman) was born from.
Dimitra Petsa believes in woman. Not the overly commercialized and commodified interpretations that have come to dominate the perception of her today, but the fundamental truths of woman and the female form. That profound belief is why motifs of femininity and womanhood were present throughout Di Petsa’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection, though not the sole focus of the show. Petsa looked towards Aphrodite and Venus for inspiration — the Grecian and Roman goddesses of love, respectively, and figures that epitomize a sort of divine feminine — pulling from their stories of hardship to fuel her narrative about the tumultuous journey of self-love.
“Reflections of Venus,” as the show was aptly titled, opened with a depiction of the birth of its namesake: a model exposed save for her lowermost private parts, emerging from a sea of dancers (of whom Petsa herself was amongst). Models wore their hair in long, cascading waves that called to mind the same hairdo Venus wears in Botticelli’s iconic painting of the same name. The main model, representative of Venus, was lowered onto the runway and sent off, hips swaying, thus beginning the journey of life during which one’s body “[...] becomes increasingly sexualized as you grow up, thrusting you out into the world to experience and discover self-love,” as Petsa explained. The dancers continued their performance art throughout the presentation of the collection, inviting viewers to immerse themselves within and project themselves onto the clothing, rather than simply gawk.
The same can be said about the entirety of the show. You glimpsed something of the goddess of love herself and the feelings she could arouse within you as the models walked seductively, permitting the audience to take in their forms and the clothing that had become one with them. The most spectacular of Petsa’s “wet look” dresses — a distinctly feminine Greco-Roman signature that has been passed down from artist to artist for centuries like a baton — were made of gold lamé and included the same soft drapery seen on various sculptures of Venus. The fabric followed the models’ every motion, moving as fluidly as the ocean water the goddess (and therefore the quintessential Di Petsa woman) was born from. Seafoam-inspired minidresses and spiraling gold accessories contributed to the Venusian tribute.
As usual, Petsa was not shy in showing ample amounts of skin. Though society often sexualizes the human body as it develops — especially the female one — Petsa’s baring of it was not sexual in nature, but rather a mere consequence of her message. The journey one takes to find self-love often leaves one feeling vulnerable; it is cruel in how it exposes even the most private of thoughts, places, and emotions to whoever is keen enough to catch a glimpse of them — and even crueler in the way it forces one to acknowledge their existence. Such is the nature of breaking and healing, deconstructing and rebuilding, as Petsa portrayed within the garments. One exemplary outfit featured a form-fitting gown with lace-up detailing that mimicked the boning of a traditional corset. The bodice was asymmetrical in its coverage of the model’s upper body, and the skin-colored mesh used was sheer enough to expose her breasts. In short, the dress looked partially finished — but, then again, the journey toward self-love is never really complete, even when one thinks otherwise.
The overarching theme of growth was present in both that look and many others — one of which focused on a belly made of clay. There were two handles on either side of the mold, like those one would expect to find on an amphora vase (often used to store food and beverages in ancient Greece). Petsa subverted the idea of pregnancy and what motherhood entails — growing and giving one’s love to another, even if they don’t have much for themself, and that inherent sacrifice — through this homage to her heritage. “It revolves around the idea of feeding your own self-growth and being pregnant with yourself,” she explained to Vogue.
Love as a concept has always been equal parts reality and fantasy. But when one is overwhelmed with the reality of it — the internal growth, the heartbreak, the uncomfortable vulnerability — they grow disillusioned with love altogether, the fantastical elements the first to be distrusted. Petsa’s collection speaks to the people, especially the women, who continue to strive towards self-love, and to those who might have forgotten how to welcome the healthier aspects of that fantasy into their lives.
Through her designs, Petsa continues to establish herself amongst the ranks as an avid storyteller, telling tales as nuanced and multifaceted as the messages that inspire them. 🌀
You can view the whole collection here.