Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have certainly created a persuasive world of their own at Valentino, drawing on the master’s archive and layering it with their unique ability to make prim look seductive.
This season, as Piccioli explained in a collection preview, the designers had been looking at the “calm and serene portraits of women,” by the Flemish Old Masters (Vermeer in particular) and their reinterpretation by such contemporary artists as Hendrik Kerstens. “We wanted to catch the same spirit of private sensuality,” he explained, “something very spiritual and poetic women as new Madonnas.”
In the stiff little black or lapis blue dresses that opened the austerely beautiful show, (the sole embellishment the embroidered white fall collars that resembled the ruffs worn by the burghers of seventeenth-century Holland), the models, with their tidy black hairbands and long plaits over one shoulder, and trompe l’oeil Mary Janes (the uppers filled in with blush-colored velvet), resembled novices in a particularly affluent convent.
The elegant double-face coats and cloaks in black or ivory also had the flavor of monastic life. The rigorous evening dresses, in black, ruby, or sapphire, and strangely alluring painterly color combinations, had ravishing portrait necklines fit for one of Henry VIII’s wives there was even a fur treatment that suggested royal ermine.
But when this duo apply decoration to their austere silhouettes, there is no stopping them, and they are capable of some of the most exquisite work outside the haute couture.
Take that delicate blue-and-white print, for instance. Inspired by the Delft ceramics that Valentino himself used as a design for dresses in his fall 1968 collection that helped catapult him to international fashion celebrity, they turned out, as they neared, to not be printed, but instead embroidered with a delicate tracery of beads (there were textured brocades and lace derived from the same inspiration too). Pieces of white mink were worked into classical brocade motifs, whilst wildflowers from a Dutch still life were embroidered using morsels of narrow satin ribbon and scattered over a gown of black net their colors mirrored in a unique lace, thick as Venetian eighteenth-century examples.
And if you are not yet ready for a picture frock there was embellishment in the accessories, too a large carrier bag was decorated with leather rouleaux in the swirling wrought-iron patterns the couple designed for the spring haute couture show.
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Photo Credit/Source: VOGUE
Runway: Photography by Yannis Vlamos / InDigitalteam / GoRunway
Detaila: Photography by Gianni Pucci / InDigitalteam / GoRunway
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