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Dennis Diem brings Marie Antoinette back from the dead

The collection is an homage to the French queen spread over five periods of her life

Dennis Diem showed his 10th anniversary collection, Les Antoinettes, at the 27th edition of Mercedes-Benz FashionWeek Amsterdam. It was an ode to his greatest ever muse: the eccentric French queen Marie Antoinette (1755-1793).

The Dutch corset specialist has long used Antoinette's original measurements as the blueprint for his corsets. How did he find them? In his second year as a fashion student, Diem was given permission by Parisian fashion museum Palais Galliera to study one of their most prized pieces, a corset owned by the one and only Marie Antoinette. For the occasion of his 10th anniversary, Diem has now crafted an ode to the woman who has always been his ultimate muse. This is the woman whom the media elevated to fashion icon status at just 14, and who was then brought down by the same media and eventually met her fate under the guillotine.

From glittering gown to glittering cello

With Les Antoinettes, Diem dropped his muse onto a contemporary Hollywood red carpet. This is, in fact, the place where his modern-day muse, top model Dorith Mous, could often be found these last few years. More than once was Mous spotted in a Diem corset at the Oscars or the Golden Globes. Diem opened his show in style, with a model in a glittering gown playing a matching glitter-covered silver cello. It was to these classical notes that the first three models took the runway. And it wasn’t just any runway. For his anniversary show in the Gashouder, Diem created a circular, spinning platform on which the models would walk. To complete the Hollywood feel, a pack of photographers ran from the audience to capture the models on film.

The five periods of Marie Antoinette's life

The show was split up into five periods from 'Madame Déficit's' life, starting with NUDE, in which Diem depicted Antoinette as an innocent young girl. He then took the audience further with PEARL, a representation of her years as queen and style icon, when she showed her love for pearls and mother of pearl. Diem depicted this period with chiffon dresses and hand-finished mother-of-pearl appliqués. The loss of her son and daughter and the outbreak of the French revolution were represented with BLACK, full of enormous, theatrical dresses with bombastic skirts made of dozens of layers of tulle. In the end, La reine de France landed under the guillotine, a fact that Diem depicted with a period called RED BLOOD, packed with dark red satin pieces. The show closed with the GOLD period, a reference to how Marie Antoinette is seen today: a saint larger than life itself. This is where Diem presented his largest crowning piece, a gown made from thousands of hand-cut sequins, hand gilded in 23-karat gold and sewn onto the dress by hand. All of the ensembles featured jewellery from goldsmith Bas Verdonk, who used agate, black and white pearls, and Gassan diamonds in his designs.

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