After watching a movie set in the Opera of Paris during the 1960s, Delphine’s
parents found inspiration in the name of the main ballerina actress,
Delphine. A woman with a blend of purposeful determination and elegance,
which spurs DELPHINE GENIN design years later. DELPHINE GENIN Atelier
invites you to discover the intrigue behind one of the most opulent and
grand opera houses in the world, the Palais Garnier of Paris. The history
and strong symbolism that lie within this magnificent opera house have
inspired the dresses in this collection.
A Night At The Opera, Collection Launch
Starry Night / Nuit Etoilée
A black A-line dress embellished with stars on soft tulle and hand embroidered with metallic black thread adorned with Swarovski crystals.
Angela Merkel, Jacinda Adern and Oprah Winfrey may be some names
that come to mind when you think of powerful women in today’s
society, but seeing women in positions of power is still a
relatively new phenomenon. But did you know that women once ruled
Before the creation of Genesis and the myths of Ancient Greece,
societies all throughout the Middle East, Asia and Europe were said
to have venerated the feminine. In Merlin Stone’s 1976
ground-breaking book ‘When God Was a Woman’, Stone traces the
ancient worship of the female goddess to as far back as the 7th
c.BC. She went by various names: Isis in Egypt, Astarte in Canaan,
Inanna in Sumer, Ishtar in Babylon (first to establish laws of
Justice), Sarasvati in India, Brigit in Celtic Irelan, and Nu Wa in
As early as the the 2nd c.BC, women were documented as being able to
represent themselves in court, motion for divorce, own and manage
property, free slaves and sue other people. In the eyes of the law,
men and women were virtually equally. Perhaps the most famous
civilisation is Ancient Egypt, where by the 5th c.BC the classic
historian Herodotus wrote that: “Women go to the marketplace,
transact affairs and occupy themselves with business while the
husbands stay at home and weave". Some of the most famous female
rulers in all of history were in fact the Egyptian Queens Cleopatra
VII and Nefertiti, two fierce female leaders who used their charm,
wit and intelligence to rule.
Through every garment, Delphine wants to make people think and
reflect on the position of women in our current society. Her designs
feature symbolism often used to characterise men to empower the
The dress ‘Starry Night’ is inspired by the Salon du Soleil, a small
circular room within the Palais Garnier that is dedicated to the
sun. In the centre medallion of the salon, two mythological
salamanders can be seen crawling around each other while a
spectacular golden burst of the sun’s rays fills the dome.
In mythology, the salamander was viewed as a symbol of immortality
due to the belief that it was capable of withstanding fire. This
strong symbolism has been interpreted on the front of the dress
through the depiction of a salamander. The fire breathing dragon,
another ancient creature, is represented at the back of the dress.
In mythology, the dragon has a dual interpretation: while in many
cultures it is a symbol of evil, in the Orient it is in fact a
symbol of imperial power and authority.
The spirit of these two animals is embodied in a Starry Night to
empower the wearer to make her mark wherever she goes. Swirling
around the neckline of the dress, the salamander and dragon use
their magical forces to reassure her of her capability, while
Lady on the Staircase / Dame sur l’Escalier
A navy blue crepe de chine dress featuring a sweeping fishtail train. The embroidery, a combination of golden French lace and wire, delicately wraps around the waistline of the dress.
AN UNATTAINABLE IDEAL: CAN WOMEN BE SEXY AND SMART?
Throughout history, women have fought against the unfair stereotype
is impossible to be both smart and attractive. Women have
defined by their beauty first, unlike their male counterparts who
to be recognised for their intelligence, humour or other
Female fashion reflects society’s perception of women; hence,
clothing options have changed as the role of women in society has
The corset is the most notable example of this, as its physical
of the female body mirrors society’s contemporaneous restriction of
rights and freedom. In the 1920s the designer Coco Chanel liberated
from the corset when she introduced pants and other practical yet
designs into the female wardrobe. Her designs sent a loud and
message that if women were able to dress and move like men, they
do whatever men were able to do (all the while looking fabulous).
women were no longer defined by their beauty, instead, they could be
for all of their capabilities.
The dress ‘Lady on the Staircase’ is inspired by the mix of
innovative architecture within the Palais Garnier - a pertinent
that women can be both intelligent and charming. The first image
dress evokes is that of the magnificent and imposing marble
designed by Charles Garnier. The staircase was a way for the
socialise before the performance but more importantly, a way for
showcase their exquisite gowns, and hence to admire their
Delphine challenges this more traditional component of the building
the combination of metallic hand embroidery and Anthacus leaves made
French gold lace that have been placed along the dress to represent
modern iron structure of the auditorium. In the centre of the dress,
is an Italian printed jacquard that resembles Marc Chagall’s artwork
auditorium’s ceiling. When Chagall was commissioned to replace the
ceiling painted by Jules Lenepveu in 1964, his modern and daring
deeply criticised and took years to be accepted. Through the
contrast of the
old and the new, a connection is drawn between the past (the
marble staircase) and future (the iron auditorium and Chagall’s
The Sphinx / Le Sphinx
Two hand-embroidered sphinges with multifaceted seed beads appear facing each other on the back of the light blue silk organza bodice that is supported by a navy blue tutu made out of 17 layers of Italian soft tulle. On the front of the dress, a mixture of natural and hand-dyed goose feather create the illusion of a flying eagle.
Cultural myths rather than biology have traditionally defined the
rights and duties of men and women. While physical strength has been
the main ways that men have been able to exceed the abilities of
women are not biologically prevented in any way from achieving the
same as a
man. It is the set of cultural norms assigned to genders, however,
The international bestseller, ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of
argues that ‘A good rule of thumb is ‘Biology enables, culture
Biology is willing to tolerate a very wide spectrum of
culture that obliges people to realise some possibilities while
‘The Sphinx’ reflects on this competing notion through the
two mythical sphinxes facing each other on the back of the dress.
Egyptian sphinx which was portrayed as male, in Greek mythology, as
represented on the dress, the sphinx was depicted as female. She was
portrayed as a winged lioness with a human face and was used to
entrance of the city. This symbolism supports the view that there is
difference between male and female genders - it is a cultural
developed over time.
The presence of the sphinxes is contrasted by the softness of 17
tulle floating around the ballerina allowing her to express her
while hand-painted feathers on the front of the dress enable her to
and be free to start her own life without being restrained. The
Paris is a constant reminder of this combination: a harmony of
and modernity, a world where gender equality is possible.
While Delphine’s designs use symbolism and traits often assigned to
through this dress and her designs, she wants to encourage gender
by taking and being inspired by each other’s strengths. In all of
designs, she wants to demonstrate that like men, women can be strong
determined, while also being protective, confident and assertive.
A Million Mosaic / Un Million de Mosaic
Reminiscent of a shimmering mosaic, this silk pale blue taffeta dress is embellished with hand-cut tesserae and the designer's signature metallic thread.
In her landmark 2018 address at the United Nations, Jacinda Adern
us that ‘Me too must become We too’. Her speech recognised that
stereotypes are deeply entrenched in our society and that the
gender equality is a fight for everyone to break away from
gender norms. From a young age, unrealistic societal norms are
women as caregivers and homemakers; men similarly are expected to be
breadwinners who provide the material needs of the family, rather
the nurturing and caring roles assigned to women. These social norms
due to society’s disapproval of those who seek to build their own
and thus the struggle continues.
Adern’s speech concluded with her saying that ‘we are all in this
This call for unity has inspired Delphine’s dress, ‘A Million
which features a combination of mosaic and marble in shades of blue
pink. Her use of these traditionally gender specific colours is a
representation of men and women working together; the assemblage of
million identities in one mosaic.
The Palais Garnier, another strong reference point, was built from
different types of marble from various European countries; hence,
existence is a living reminder of the power of bringing together
groups of people. Delphine pays homage to the opera house by
signature on the shoulder of the dress, just like Garnier hid his
inside the Palais Garnier’s rotunda. The inclusion of her signature
recognises Delphine’s ability to create her own identity and not be
by the social constructs around her.
Golden Goddess / Déesse Dorée
Made out of silk georgette, over 16 different materials have been used to create the Art embroidery on this gown, including mohair threads, cords, gold and silver threads and Swarovski crystals.
Time and time again, we hear that girls wear pink and boys wear
blue. Why do
these gender stereotypes exist?
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychoanalyst, believed that men and women
mix of qualities that are typically associated as masculine or as
For men, these archetypical female traits were tenderness,
vulnerability while within women he believed there were masculine
such as courage, assertiveness and analytical thought. These
be expressed if allowed, or repressed and removed, thus remaining
‘unconscious’. However, Jung found that from childhood we create
identities and roles to conform with the often crippling gender
that society imposes. These stereotypes tell us that girls play with
while boys play with Lego and trucks.
Jung theorised that the embrace of all qualities allows for a true,
self to emerge. His theory may remind you of the Ancient Chinese
dualism, which is symbolised by yin and yang. This recognises that
opposing forces can complement each other and that harmony can be
when everyone possesses a balance of different characteristics and
Throughout the collection, Delphine seeks to find a solution to the
gender inequality. She believes that this can be solved by educating
and boys from a young age that they should embrace all aspects of
personalities, before they are taught to adhere to strict gender
stereotypes. Integrating social and emotional learning at school
children to empathise by understanding the existence of gender norms
learn the value in recognising that each person is unique and that
differences in gender should be celebrated rather than ignored and
Delphine conveys this message in her dress, ‘A Golden Goddess’,
homage to the Palais Garnier by incorporating classical and baroque
into the dress’ design. Despite the fact that the baroque style,
opulence and grandeur, was a rejection of renaissance architecture,
for its harmony and balance, Charles Garnier used both styles in the
construction and design of the Palais Garnier. The dress, with its
floating silk chiffon, represents the classical architecture of the
house and is reminiscent of white columns and the drapes worn in
Greece. The overloaded embroidery, a mix of gold and silver sequins,
metallic threads and seed beads, represents the ornate baroque style
opera house. While they are naturally opposing styles, when put
they complement each other perfectly in harmony.
Rebellious Ballerina / Ballerina Rebelle
A multi-layered tulle tutu, made of 15 metres of fabric for each layer, and dimensional hand embroidery hanging ballerina shoes contrast with a structured passementerie military jacket.
We need competence, not confidence, in our leaders
What if leaders were selected on competence rather than confidence,
rather than charisma, and integrity rather than narcissism? Perhaps
would end up not only with more competent leaders but also with more
leaders. This is what organisational psychologist Tomas
In theory, this sounds like a simple solution, but it also
struggle that women have traditionally faced in the workplace. When
exhibit character traits typically associated with male leadership
decisiveness, authority or assertiveness, they are likely to be
bossy, pushy or too aggressive. And yet when they embrace traits
empathy and collaboration, they can be perceived as pushovers, too
not tough enough to do their jobs. Some may call these “feminine
but as Chamorro-Premuzic points out, they are also some of the
a well-rounded leader.
However, we must also acknowledge that men, despite typically being
likely to obtain high positions, can also be neglected in this
decades we have spent time defining “womanhood” and challenging
women to be
more confident while the same cannot always be said for men. Men are
told to be tough at all costs and are discouraged from having
are considered feminine. To raise future male leaders that act with
and integrity, we need to teach this from a young age.
The dress named Rebellious Ballerina, is a protest against the
it is a bold statement to say that women can be strong and assume
roles just as men can have feelings and be vulnerable at times. It
is also a
notable reflection of the Palais Garnier’s history, through the
of the passementerie style military jacket, which represents the
which the opera house was used as a military reservoir, and through
romantic tutu which is inspired by the costumes worn by ballerinas
their performances. The hanging ballerina shoes on the neckline of
jacket symbolise the rebellious ballerina’s rejection of our current
which is slow to recognise women’s abilities and to allow men to be
Beneath the Chandelier / Sous le Chandelier
Composed of fine silk organza, this wedding dress is inspired by the light and enchantment of the magnificent crystal chandeliers that illuminate the Palais Garnier. Hand-stitched French lace has been used to create intricate motifs on the dress, while the long train is made of a heavy silk satin.
What if we took off our mask and revealed our true self?
At least once in your life, have you ever felt that you weren’t
your true self and were trying to act like someone you’re
All of us, whether a man or woman, occasionally wear masks to try to
who we actually are rather than revealing our real selves. The
reason we do
this is inherently psychological; rather than acting like ourselves,
a mask like a form of protective armour when we are fearful of
exposing what we believe to be our weaknesses. As we feel more
and able to trust the other person, we are able to take off the
Likewise, as we become more self-aware of how we may be perceived,
to let go of our fear of being who we really are.
A pièce de résistance, ‘Beneath the Chandelier’, is the final dress
collection and the one that everyone waits for eagerly, like the
guests turn to look at the bride as she walks down the aisle.
Nothing is a
truer representation and reflection of one’s self authentic self
wedding dress, which allows the bride to radiate what she feels
the outside world: internal beauty, joy and love for the person she
support during the good and bad times and devote her life to.
the bride is no longer wearing a mask; she is her true self.
Adorned with Swarovski stones and crystals on a delicate French
wedding dress is an interpretation of the Palais Garnier’s
chandelier. Faced by critics who considered the chandelier to be
ostentatious in its size, Garnier replied at the time: "What else
the theatre with such joyous life? What could offer this variety of
in the arrangement of the flames, in these grouped and tiered points
light, these tawny gold hues flecked with bright spots, and these
crystalline highlights?". With long sleeves, the dress has an A-line
with a structured collar and two columns on the shoulders forming a
train at the back. Like Garnier’s chandelier, the bride lights up
reflecting the multitude of facets that makes her who she is.