Valentino, under the vision of Pierpaolo Piccioli, pushes couture to its limits to go back to its essence. How so, you ask? The creative director whittles down garments to build them back to life again, creating some of the most forward-thinking and modern couture on the calendar this season. To honor the intimacy and art of making clothes, Valentino scaled back from its epic show at a castle last season to the Valentino Haute Couture headquarters in the Place Vendôme. The likes of J.Lo, Florence Pugh, and Kylie (and Stormi!) Jenner filed into the hallowed halls, where the skilled ateliers work to fulfill Piccioli’s vision.
The designer’s couture collections during his tenure at Valentino have ranged from couture-ified jeans to sweeping organza gowns and capes, demonstrating that made-to-measure is not about doing the most, or having a statement piece to end all others, but rather about the practice and meditation of making something by hand. Couture week’s transformation is remarkable, as the front rows have increasingly become fodder for social media feeds, with houses packing their seats with A-listers and content creators alike. But lest we forget that the production is first and foremost for couture clients, a.k.a. those who have six figures to spend on a season’s worth of custom garments. Piccioli considers this in the most contemporary context, bringing his pieces firmly into the 21st century by releasing their stricture, not in quality but in silhouette and wearability.
Familiar themes abounded in this collection, like the combining colors that at first glance may be jarring but ultimately transcend. Take, for instance, a mac-and-cheese orange workwear jacket paired with a fluted burgundy skirt and lilac scoop-neck tank top. The overall feeling Piccioli leans into is ease, whether through flowing silk-wool trousers or a chiffon caftan dress with billowing feathers. There are still countless options for those attending galas and the like, with sweeping strapless taffeta gowns, light-as-air and very walkable. For a few seasons, Piccioli cast models of all ages, sizes, and builds, something rare in couture, and it would be wonderful to see him return to that and fit them into his incredibly modern vision. He’s got the means to execute on what could be groundbreaking steps towards a couture vision for all. Bringing men into the fold a few seasons ago was a genius move, allowing those that are male-identifying (and who can afford it) and friends of the house to experience the magic of couture. My pick would be the delectable green trench embroidered in patent to resemble crocodile, all the intrigue without any of the animal cruelty. The finale gowns were mere traces of dresses made up of Chantilly lace across the eyes, chest, and adorning the waist—wisps of black widows, elusive chanteuses slipping into the night. We can only wonder where they’re off to next.
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