When the designer Dimitra Petsa dreamed up her first “wet dress” in 2018 for her brand Di Petsa, she knew she wanted to integrate her love of performance art into the creation. As a result, the garment was born as a dress that quite literally looks wet, inspired by the idea of no longer feeling shameful about bodily fluids.
Since then, the Grecian designer has staged poetic performances around the globe—and witnessed a slew of celebs wear the dress, each of which is made to order, and thus entirely one-of-a-kind (it takes at least three weeks to make, as well). Gigi Hadid wore the dress while pregnant, along with Kylie Jenner, Paloma Elsesser and Rina Sawayama. Doja Cat and Sza even wore custom rose quartz-colored wet dresses (a tribute to the designer’s obsession with crystals) in their Kiss Me More music video.
“I wanted to create the view of a woman who’s completely wet, but dressed,” Petsa says of the creation. “Then when you are out in public, people actually think that you’re wet and participating in a performance—something to be celebrated rather than hidden.” Other key pieces from the designer include a modern corset that drops down for breastfeeding, bras and skirts bearing phrases like “wet” and “holy water” in script, and mesh tops.
For Petsa, the brand is an evolution of interaction through clothes; after months of online workshops covering topics such as full moon rituals, the brand will host its first pop-up at 50M London from June 11-14th.
“The brand is all about accepting your body,” Petsa says. “It’s important to have this community and make clothes that empower people to accept yourself through finding your sexuality and your beauty.” We caught up with the London designer just days before her pop-up for a Style Notes interview—where she told us the story behind the wet dress’ inception, and why garments she sewed alongside her grandmother are still in her closet today.
How did the wet dress come to be?
When I finally started my masters at Central Saint Martins, I started to look into feminist theory and the way that we treat women’s body fluids. We try to make ourselves dry, essentially, by using all these really harmful chemicals like deodorant—until recently, we didn’t know that many brands use harmful chemicals in all sorts of products. If you’re breastfeeding outside, sometimes you have to hide. I felt all this oppression and censorship in this need for dryness—pretending we’re not wet, that we don't come from water. I wanted to create a garment that you can actually wear—you don’t have to throw water on yourself. It took us six months to develop and create this technique.
Tell me about your upcoming pop-up and exhibition.
I met a lot of the people who were interested in the brand through the workshops that we do every month, either in person or on Instagram. I wanted to translate all of this experience into something physical now that other things are actually opening up. It is set up like an exhibition, featuring the poetry on the clothing. I was really looking into the depth of my own eroticism and the depths of the ocean; all the colors are dark blue, and black, so the text is a bit more mysterious. So on the 14th, we will have a live poetry reading.
Why is it important to you to use performance in your work?
Performance art is something everybody should have the opportunity to engage in. It is one of the best ways to let go of shame, because it’s all about you and your own self-pleasure. That’s something I always tell my performers when we are doing the show: when we perform, we don’t perform for the audience, we perform for us—our self-indulgence and our own healing. We’re just allowing people to look at the temporary parts of it in that way. The format was important for everyone because it also makes you create different narratives and different beauty in your own life.
Let’s get into the Style Notes questions. What is your go-to outfit on a day off?
If it’s hot, I’m just going to lay around naked in my house. But if I’m going to see friends, I just love, love, love to wear my knitted collection from autumn/winter. It’s so soft and stretchy.
What was the last thing you purchased?
My healing crystal bracelet, it’s a rose quartz bracelet.
What is the best piece of fashion advice you’ve ever received?
When I was young, I had trouble putting my outfits together. My mom, who is very stylish, gave me this advice: to look at the colors in your clothes and if any part of your clothes has the same color, then they will go. So even if you are putting yellow with green and blue, if there’s a tiny bit of blue in that yellow, it will go.
What was your style like as a teenager?
Oh my god—I was all about high heels and dresses. As I grew older, it transformed into something very, very different. Now, I’m way more about sexy comfort. That’s why I like all the clothes we make. I always make a big point for everything to be stretchy, to allow for you to gain a couple pounds and lose a couple pounds and things will still fit.
What is the most prized possession in your closet?
My grandma taught me how to sew because she was a seamstress and also a tailoring teacher. So all those garments that we made when I was first learning to sew proper garments, these are my most prized possessions.
What was your first major fashion purchase?
I bought a traditional Greek costume bag. In Greek craftsmanship, we have really beautiful embroideries and there are only one or two surviving craftsmen who can actually create these embroideries and techniques. I went to this village in the middle of nowhere and this guy was there making the stuff. I could only afford to buy a bag, but it’s still the most beautiful bag I’ve ever had.
What’s one thing you always have in your handbag?
I always have crystals with me; I usually have Citrine crystals in my bag, or a Labrador. I always have pins and needles with me, too. Because you never know when you’re going to need them.
Do you have a style icon?
Maria Callas, Cher, Madame Grès, Annie Sprinkle, Jade O Belle, Jackie Shuya Tan, and Leila Rahimi.
Do you prefer heels or flats?
I prefer heels cause they always give me a confidence boost.
Do you have a favorite accessories brand?
Yes, Hag Stone. I worked with her, we did the collaboration for the jewelry on the one of my first collections. She is actually amazing.