Rome... the eternal city! In this case Rome was the birthplace of Valentino so it was fitting that this Haute Couture show or Alta Moda, as it is called in Italy, was probably the best show that Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have ever set forth. Please do not think that this show was the greatest thing since sliced white, but for the brand and its team, this was a landmark show especially ever since they took the reins.
This was a show and collection that did everything that it was supposed to in terms of what one expects from a presentation of this ilk. The clothes are as always impeccably produced and for the first time in my memory the dresses were not of the over embroidered, over embellished and overly monastic varieties. The collection came alive when shown against a light bright surrounding rather than the usual brooding and lugubrious dreary dark atmospheres that have become as much their signature as their unmade up and scrubbed clean virginal models. Today, one saw young ladies who were wearing makeup albeit their hair not exactly coiffed and of course those flat shoes... in this case... gladiator sandals! Do you see where this is headed? My thought was … what would have happened if the mannequins were properly coiffed and shod... a whole different sort of vibe and slickness would have been exuded?
There were references to the gladiator days of Rome, to the marble tile work in some of Rome’s greatest cathedrals, palazzos and churches and even references to the arched façade of the Coliseum … to name a few. One might even say that these Roman goddesses wore golden wreaths on their heads that were reminiscent of the glory days of Julius Caesar. These were the Roman army of Goddesses or possibly the gladiators of Valentino.
The show and clothes were less funereal and monastic than usual, as said before, and benefitted greatly by the use of silk velvet which surely upped the luxe quotient. Even the black pieces in velvet were lush. Of course Chiuri and Piccioli offered their de rigeur lace and transparent pieces which seem redundant, if not a bit tired, as their constant use of it makes so much seem... oh that again! The black on black pieces were especially chic as were a few of the feathered numbers outstanding. Yes, the workrooms of the house got a good workout but that’s not unusual here. Where were the beaded pieces, the satin duchesses, the taffetas and nary a bow in site!? BTW yes it was red but not Valentino red!
What was missing, was day clothes, save a couple of coats, a red one in particular that should have had 2 braided closures not 3 and a black on black cape. As usual, the lace and tulle pieces are barely discernible from season to season and while I am always preaching consistency and signature, these clothes cannot be assigned a season from where they originate or in terms of newness. While we are at it, this was a collection that was all about long as there surely were not many short hemlines to be found.
In the end, this was a stellar collection, FOR THEM, as it was departure from what has become their norm. Yes, some standout out pieces and yes some real clunkers but mostly pretty clothes where editing and more grown up styling might have brought the show over the top.
PS.. is it me or is there so sex appeal about these clothes?