Inspired by the ocean surrounding her hometown in Greece, and as an act of defiance against the over-sanitation of fluid bodies, Dimitra Petsa, alias Di Petsa, developed the material of the century: it looks like it’s dripping wet and is transparent. I like to imagine it’s one material expression of this year’s iconic track Wet Ass Pussy. Wetness and performance of feminine sexuality are what this designer has in common with Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s track – whilst her concept is seemingly less tied to the male gaze. Dimitra emphasises in our interview the universally fluid human experience, the tears, the constant flux in identity. This squarely situates her clothing as free of any borders on gender. Like drawing mapped 2D frontiers on the ocean, gendered labels are eventually bureaucratic and superficial.
Di Petsa’s genius draping is what sets her designs apart – she started learning pattern cutting with her grandmother at the age of twelve and it shows. From wet t-shirts to diaphanous drapery in Greek sculpture, her garments have a wealth of cultural references. Not excluding Galliano’s actually wet dress in his Spring/Summer 1986 collection titled Fallen Angels, inspired by Europe’s flu epidemic of 1803. It’s ironic that in today’s coronavirus flu pandemic Di Petsa’s innovative design draws a parallel with Galliano’s wet dress. That same irony is then turned up a notch since Di Petsa’s designs went full circle and inspired Galliano to take up her draping technique for Margiela Fall/Winter 2020 Couture Collection. Di Petsa prefers not to comment. Her latest jewellery series is similarly inspiring.

Some hard-line feminists might wonder if Di Petsa dressing Hadid, the Kardashians, and producing bridal commissions, negates the fluid idea of gender performance that underlines the collections since it sits in traditional ideas of womanhood. However, the designer’s openness to all expressions actually reminds us female identity is broad and far-reaching and gatekeeping doesn’t always help. Inclusivity is championed. The self-identified ecofeminist talks inspiration, the concept behind her designs and performance.
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What is your relationship with the sea? Was she present in your youth?
The sea has been important to me growing up, as my hometown in Greece is next to a harbour and I could always hear boats leaving the docks from my bedroom. I find the sea healing, and to me, it feels like home.
Why do you align fluidity with the feminine?
I don’t necessarily align fluidity with the feminine, it's more so that I think the femme experience is historically and contemporary very sanitised and compartmentalised, when really the human experience is much more fluid. For example, the vagina is not only wet when one is aroused, one does not only cry when they are sad, and emotions don’t follow any linear order they can happen all the time and at once and so in this understanding, there can be different expressions of the feminine.
Gender identity and performance come hand in hand, and dressing can be a great tool to play with that. Why, for you, does performance come before the garment?
Performance and the body is what inspires me, and so that is why performance always comes before I create the actual garment. But then also, once the garment is created that in itself is a tool for your own performance and self-expression. For instance, with our line of Wet Script mesh pieces, we intend to subvert the idea that we should be ashamed of our natural bodily fluids by re-narrating their physical and philosophical context, a notion that is unapologetically portrayed with the poetic scripts, such as 'Cries in Public,' 'Holy Water, Sea Water' and 'Wetness' digitally printed on the surface. We intend for the customer to feel empowered and connected when wearing these garments, as the garments become subtitles and a script to the performance of their daily life.
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Your first wet dress was born in a performance in the halls of Central Saint Martins – did you have any specific film or narrative references for it?
The technique of the 'wet look' is an original fabric technique that took six months to develop during my master’s at Central Saint Martins. But the conceptualisation started from a series of performances I was doing for my bachelor degree studying performance design and practice at CSM, where I had a woman dressed in water walk across Athens, and it was that idea that I wanted to crystallise and make it a continuation of this performance. So, somebody wearing their own wet look could be part of this water performance without actually having to be wet.
How does your interest in gender performance coexist with your bridal range and weddings?
I think bridal is something that is re-established right now by a younger generation that wants to express themselves freely, in the way that they want, and are not defined by traditional societal ideas of gender within marriage or traditional expectations of what should be worn. The clients that we work with have their own ideas and definitions of what marriage means to them and what they would like to wear and so we want to create a bridal line that is fluid and inclusive to all. We want to make beautiful wedding garments that are personal to each individual, special pieces that they feel comfortable and confident in, that they can connect to on a deeper level – as it is a true reflection of their style and what they want to wear.
What does it mean to be a wearer-performer in a script-garment?
The wet script garments are a very useful performance tool for when you get out of the centre, or when you want to dedicate your day to Wetness and to coming back to the home self, which is the sea, it can be very beautiful to just look down your chest, and can read excerpts of a script that can then re-align the self, and put you back into the performance you choose to create, and not be so affected by what is around you.
A wearer-performer the way that I perceive it is someone who puts an intention forward when they wear a wet script garment and choose to connect with it on a deeper level. It can complement their daily performance, and inspire them in their actions to remember to be fluid and accepting of their wet emotions and wet self.
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Has the pandemic impacted your work?
I think for everyone, the pandemic has impacted all areas of life and work and has brought about resilience to adapt and adjust. For me, this has meant moving from our London studio back to Greece for the time being, but still working with team members that are working remotely from their home in London, so as a team we are more flexible around the time difference and communicating digitally.
You developed your own material to perfect the wet look. I don’t want you to completely spill the tea, but can you give us a droplet of how it works?
The technique of the wet look is something that we keep a secret because it is an original fabric technique that took a long time to develop. I won't go too much into the technical process, but in terms of fittings and creating the shapes – the process for this involved performances with me and my friends/models, where we would wet fabric and drape it onto each other to see how the fabric falls naturally to the body, and it is these fluid shapes that we recreate with our hand drapery to create motion in the wet look silhouette.
Arca’s Non-binary music video features your lingerie as she glitches in a very ‘birth of Venus’ setting. How are your visions similar?
I think it is more important for the audience or someone who is observing the art to draw their own parallels, but both our work draws upon different expressions of the feminine.
I absolutely love Arca’s work and am very inspired by it, so I was really happy to even be a small part of this beautiful film.
Do you intend on maintaining your white and blue colour palette for your future work?
The blue and white colour palette is symbolic of the wetness theory behind the Di Petsa brand and something which we plan to continue – I do the colours that the sea brings me so who knows were that might take us in the future!
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