Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Picciolo are reevaluating how to evoke emotion. In a season where the digital e-commerce model has begun to realign with the fashion system, the Valentino designers are looking at ‘the value of making fashion in a world that that has become two dimensional.’ This touches on something deeper than the speed with which fashion is now moving, this was about how to create a connection – full stop. This post digital idea has been kicking around in think tanks for some time now. In a time where we are so overconnected - via our screens - we have never been so disconnected. One way to reconnect is the idea of the ‘happening’. Something that artists such as Yayoi Kusama see just as valuable as any artistic medium. The beauty of a one off, unshareable had-to-be-there-to-see-it moment is a way that art and museum spaces are also currently claiming exclusivity again.
Nothing that revolutionary happened here – it wasn’t as if the show wasn’t live streamed. What the label did do was attempt to lean heavily on the world of dance, as a metaphor for a real life expression of authenticity. This collection’s aim was to be quiet yet achingly beautiful. A touch derivative in places, it felt like a carefully crafted way of nodding to what’s working in fashion right now. Amusing, given how much of the current mood is Valentino-inspired. A mustard velvet dress layered under a camel turtle neck reminded one of the way Courrèges knocked it out the park last season. Whilst bags worn across the body - with a shorter strap - was something we’ve seen recently at a certain other Italian fashion house.
The collection began in a black solid section of Victorian high necks, portrait necklines, with low balletic backs, and wide kimono cut coats. Rather like a blank canvas, the only decoration came from silver necklaces and an incredible metal appliqué jacket which looked like dominoes from some ancient time had been collected and scattered. The Roman heritage of the house was represented via armoured skirts in blacken midi lengths. The skirts became armour tutus, and we were soon launched into the remainder of the collection, which delivered a curtain call of ongoing balletic creations. Grecian slip dresses and ruched silk jersey gowns evoked images of the early 20th century dancer Isabella Duncan. Endless shades of pretty nude provided the backdrop whilst burgundy, pale blue and buttercup ochre enriched the colour palette. A gold leaf appliqué chiffon dress also added a mythical quality. Outerwear wise, long line Edwardian coats embroidered with folkloric motifs and florals evoked the past. Whilst – at the other end of the spectrum – a liquid vinyl burgundy coat claimed a future spotlight position.
As the collection reached its finale, it divided into an explosion of white feathers and fur enshrouded angelic dresses - versus a darker, Black Swan undercurrent. Black leather ankle boots lent a gothic vibe alongside crystal encrusted black leather jackets. In the show notes, one of the dancers mentioned was New City Ballet dancer Karole Armitage, who was also said to inspire these contemporary ‘punk contrasts.’
As an extension of the turtleneck cover up idea, thick ribbed funnel necks were worn under sequin dresses – and visions of ballerinas running to and from rehearsals tip toed into one’s mind. Like an intuitive blend of Victoriana, Edwardiana, seventies Halston and the Ballet Russes, Valentino’s visual dance weaved in and out of eras – and into the world of A/W 16.