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Di Petsa’s new collection was born of self-love and deep personal intimacy

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The Greek designer’s full moon lockdown rituals lay the foundations for AW21 offering ‘I Am My Own Mother’

Way back at the start of lockdown 1.0, Dimitra Petsa took to Instagram to announce her new ‘wetness workshop’. Taking place on the night of the full moon across Zoom, the intimate sessions saw Petsa encourage the women that joined to explore their relationship with their bodily fluids, as she recited passages of text and poetry, guided them through meaningful movement patterns, and worked with various crystals to promote cleansing and healing among the group.

As the months progressed, the workshops evolved and shifted into something new. “With every full moon, we started moving more and more towards the idea of self-mothering and how the love we give to others compares to the love we have for ourselves. Sexual love, friendship love, platonic love, even motherly love – all forms of love are first innate within you,” Petsa explains over the phone from Athens. “During this time, when we had to be alone and couldn’t connect with people as easily or as much, it was really important to me to explore the solace and intimacy we can find within ourselves.”

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It’s these workshops, which she unsurprisingly describes as ‘intensely moving’, that went on to inform her AW21 collection I Am My Own Mother. Making its debut at Paris Fashion Week this afternoon (digitally, of course), a short, sensual film with a hypnotic soundtrack courtesy of Violet Wilson expands her rapidly evolving universe. With Petsa’s signature, dripping wet-look pieces, masturbation jeans, and cutaway, breastfeeding corsetry still at the heart of the offering, the coming season sees the Greek designer dive deeper into themes of safety and protection. 

Models wearing rich velvet corsets and floor-length silk column dresses in rich shades of inky midnight blue writhe on the floor, while others caress their pregnant stomachs, draped in fine, gauzy knits run through with rivers of metallic thread. “The whole palette is a lot darker, and we created a lot more maternity wear,” Petsa explains. “The idea is that you can wear it if you’re breastfeeding, but also if you’re not – metaphorically, you could be feeding yourself, which again taps into the idea of being your own mother.” Rounding things off are a selection of rough-hewn, hand-carved rings, necklaces, and bangles, studded with healing crystals imbued with personal meaning. “I did a lot of research into ancient Greek rituals, about how they used crystals back then,” she adds. 

In fact, with Petsa temporarily switching London for the sanctuary of her family home in Athens six months ago, Greek history and maternal ties are stitched more deeply than ever into her latest collection. In a bid to preserve ancient dying arts, the designer joined forces with the Lyceum of Hellenic Women, who used traditional techniques, including Byzantine-era embroidery and lace-making, to bring a number of pieces to life. “It’s so sad that more people don’t know how to make these things anymore. I feel very close to the aim of protecting traditional craftsmanship because my grandma, my great-grandmother, and many women in my family have always practised these crafts,” Petsa says. 

“These women are making things that are living parts of ancient history, but nobody employs them to make them or teaches the new generation how to do it. If you think about it, tradition lives not only by preserving things like they’re artifacts, but also breathing it and working with it, so it can have a longer life.” With Petsa encouraging the women she worked with to embroider their initials into the painstaking ‘masterpieces’ they created, I suggest that while her pieces may be fresh from the sewing machine, they’re already woven through with a tangle of intertwining histories, rendering them immediate artefacts in themselves. “And I love that!” she replies. “History isn’t something that’s happened, something dead. We take old traditions and we breathe new life into them. We make new histories every day.” 

Take a look through Di Petsa’s AW21 collection in the gallery above, and head here for more on everything going down at Paris Fashion Week.