Growing up as a young girl in Athens, little did Dimitra Petsa know that she would flood the future with her physical and metaphorical wetness. After spending her childhood with her grandmother, who worked as a tailoring teacher, she later graduated from Central Saint Martins in London, one of the most prominent fashion schools with a big reputation for successful alumni. Spending many years down by the water, she found herself indulged in the world of female wetness. When it came to launching her namesake brand, she created a combination of performance art and sustainable fashion. She had consistently inserted the concepts of ecology and feminism within her collections, trailblazing her own reputation and rightfully so. Her designs have been worn across the oceans by the likes of FKA Twigs, Rina Sawamaya, and Kali Uchis, donning some couture. The designer and her innovative signature “wet look”, is the definitive look in setting up the intimate future of eco-feminist fashion.
One of the reasons Di Petsa has become a reigning brand is thanks to this one-of-a-kind look. The signature body-conscious design is crafted from a unique method of draping, stitching, and layering, a series of sheer white fabrics. The result is a dress that looks freshly dipped in bathwater, resembling antiquated stone sculptures of Greek Goddesses. It discreetly reveals and conceals parts of the body, with the choice of what to reveal suited for each individual client. She also uses stretch fabrics to purposely fit and mold the customers’ body no matter the circumstance, giving a curve-hugging appeal. Di Petsa aims for fluid and inclusive looks for all various body types, even offering a custom bridal line. The technique took her about 6 months to learn and master, and she keeps the secret to the technique on lockdown. Despite her well-kept secret, being a small name house with a sleek innovative look definitely intrigues the competition. So much so that John Galliano’s recent tenure at Maison Margiela came under fire for plagiarizing the “wet look” design. It set fire on the high fashion Instagram account 1 Granary, with followers noting that there was no chance the situation was a mere coincidence. No resolution came from the situation, but designers are definitely lurking in the Di Petsa water.
Within the bones of the dripped cool girl look lies the fluid substance of subliminal political messaging. The designer’s main intention with each collection is to start conversations about female fluids and wetness. From a purely societal standpoint, there is a century ridden taboo around wetness and female bodies, with elite corners of society frowning upon public displays of breastfeeding and crying. If a woman does the essential duty of nurturing her child in a public setting, she will often get stared down and whispered about by the passing crowds. If a woman cries in public for having a bad workday, she can get labeled as an “emotional trainwreck” or be told to “pull herself together”. The relationship of wetness and femaleness has been strained by societal standards of a so-called proper woman. Women are expected to behave straightlaced and “ladylike” to an extreme degree, where outwardly displaying emotions or performing natural body functions is frowned upon and coated as “unclassy”. Petsa herself had internalized these oppressions of wetness on herself from a young age, as her inner battle is what led to her inspiration.
Thus, the clothes she creates serve as both fashionable garments and pieces of resistance to express female wetness. One fond silhouette she designed is a corset with an exposed breast to emulate breastfeeding. This piece was meant to be a homage to the act of mothering. Mothers and motherhood are the backbone of many cultures, heavily tasked with raising all the children to do good in the world. Despite the essentialness of mothers, the role itself is often ignored and under-appreciated by patriarchal structures. Maternity inspired looks are not the only feminine source of magic in her collections. The latest line featured on her website is full of mesh bodysuits in aquatic colors, each featuring poetic quotes from a performance art that Petsa created, entitled the Wetness performances. There are motifs of waves like fonts, teardrops, hibiscus flowers, and venus shells. By connecting symbols of the sea to femininity, Petsa creates a composition of mermaid magic.
In past literature and films, the mermaid, often depicted as a female, symbolizes the sensual power and fertility of the female body. In global folklore, the mermaid is a beacon of beauty and descendant of Venus, yet she is also tasked with the birthing of storms and the cycle of producing water for agriculture. It’s a dynamic position that represents the duality of females. Di Petsa further builds off this wave of feminine magic in her clothes, taking the mermaid from the sea to the streets.
Her soft ballet approach to clothes has helped garner slow and steady international recognition. Many celebrities have been spotted in custom designs, with pregnancy announcements being a favorite avenue. Model Gigi Hadid was one of the first to pose in a “wet look” gown showcasing her baby belly and was soon followed by the Queen of Rap, Nicki Minaj. In a psychedelic photo op from David LaChapelle, Minaj is wrapped up like ivy in sheer fabric with her naked baby bump front and center. The visual composition of the photo and the dress is the closest thing that 2020 had to the Garden of Eden, full of fertility and light. Despite the abundance of pregnancy mentioned in this article, Di Petsa also focuses on the sexual aspect of femaleness. One pair of pants she sells in her catalogue is called “Masturbation Denim Jeans”. Fit for a gamine with the low-rise bootcut style, it cheekily has a triangle shaped pocket in the front, emulating a vagina for “Cosmic Masturbation”. Another notable pair in the vein of wet pants is the “Pee Stain Pants.” It’s another low-rise pair but this time in an Americana faded blue color with a distressed hem on the side. However, this time, the star of the show is the pee stain design that trickles down the crotch. The two pairs may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it is in perfect alignment with the caliber of natural wetness for the Di Petsa namesake.
Meanwhile, at the soul of each piece is the divine intention of loving yourself unconditionally and eternally. With her designs, Petsa aims to create a safe space of shedding the shame that comes with body fluids. Replacing all said shame with positive emotions of eroticism, natural beauty, fertility, and pleasure. Modern-day women have been making new definitions for these standards, allowing more flexibility in performing what defines womanhood and relationships. More emphasis is placed on comfort and confidence, unique and flexible to each individual. To boost these mantras outside of the atelier, Petsa has also been hosting virtual community events that pour out nothing but self-love, appropriately called the “Wetness Full Moon Rituals”. The idea was conceived in quarantine, with the latest taking place on April’s past pink supermoon. Each event takes place on the full moon of the month to harness the energy of transition. It has been a success for female audiences as it explores the relationship between women and water, fully focusing on the fluidity of spiritual emotions such as healing and vulnerability.
Far from dry and dated, Di Petsa is on its meteoric rise to becoming the ultimate it-girl brand. The brand is still in the newborn stages, so there’s still so much room for growth and exploration in the future for the scheme of things like an earth tone color palette or a wet stained mini skirt. The best part about Di Petsa is that with its core value of female fluidity, the looks are suited for every kind of woman, be it the muses, the femmes fatales, the hopeless romantics, the realists, or anyone in between.
Photo 1: Metal Magazine
Photo 2: Love Magazine
Photo 3: Indulge Express
Photo 4: i-D Magazine
Photo 5: SHOWstudio
Photo 6: British VOGUE