Pina Fiorenza unveiled a range of couture gowns at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival, inspired by Christian Dior’s revolutionary ‘New Look’ of the late 1940’s.

In designing the collection, the veteran Brisbane designer said she was enchanted by a pivotal moment in fashion history, when Dior’s extravagant designs caused a frenzied attack on models in Paris during the post war period.

“Dior was showing one of his first, lavish collections in a Parisian market; war rations had deprived the world of beauty, and desire for luxury garments was so great, women became crazed by the incredible fabrics and shapes,” Pina said.

“Overwhelmed by what they were seeing, they ripped the dresses off the models.”

The incident was a major scandal of the time, and sparked a renewed interest in extravagant fashion, putting Paris back on the international fashion map.

Dior’s designs marked a move away from war time austerity, towards a bright new period of voluptuous shapes and incredible fabrics, and a swift change in sentiment soon saw him celebrated by Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow for heralding a ‘New Look’ in fashion.

Pina says her MBFF collection celebrates that iconic, frenetic moment in a Paris market, and takes inspiration from Dior’s “beautiful silhouettes, excessive design and lavish fabric”.

“As an industry, we’ve seen a lot of cost-cutting and paring back in recent years, and I want this collection to remind us of the reasons why we do fashion,” Pina said.

Having only just moved back into her studio after it was destroyed by the January floods, Pina said the tumultuous start to the year gave her a renewed sense of excitement when designing the collection.

“I wanted to have an incredible amount of fun with form, fabric and embellishments,” Pina said.

“The theatrics of fashion at the catwalk level is incredibly euphoric; when my designs are on the catwalk, I want them to say ‘forget austerity, forget about what’s happened, it’s a new day, and we’re here to revel in an extravagant fantasy – even if it’s just for a brief moment’.”

Known for her two decades in bridal design, Pina’s catwalk collection features avant garde bridal creations, as well as a series of bespoke eveningwear gowns from Fiorenza Evening, which was launched this year.

“It’s all about dramatic, voluptuous shapes in rich, thick silk embroidery, silk chiffon, masses of tulle, heavily beaded French lace and silk organza,” she said.

“There’s also a tribute to Balenciaga, who famously spent three years perfecting a sleeve; I love that level of obsession,” Pina said.


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Fiorenza Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival collection 2011, photography by Sam Thies