There are few artists in recent history who evoke a more powerful portrait of a lady than Frida Kahlo. Having referenced the work of several strong female characters in their time at VALENTINO, it’s no surprise that designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli edged the Mexican icon into the frame for resort. A vibrant sense of color and folkloric sensibility ran through the collection, from a diaphanous ruffled dress printed from head to toe in exotic hummingbirds to a suede minidress with a verdant motif that could have been swiped straight from the painter’s canvas. Gorgeous broderie anglaise Victorian-style dresses of the sort that love children of the late sixties and early seventies would have worn were sprinkled with intricate beaded floral motifs that stood as mini works of art of themselves.
Somewhat ironically, it was an archival moment that gave this collection its vivid zing. A psychedelic print from a 1973 Valentino show the program notes called it "visually disruptive" inspired the graphic, multicolored designs that made up the boldest looks in this huge eighty-three-outfit lineup: a chevron mink over a contrasting-stripe frock, checks with zigzags, and a chemisier dress in pixelated stripes. Extrapolating on that idea, they came up with sixties-ish shift dresses in interesting color combinations lemon yellow and petal pink, or turquoise, Kelly green, and coral that were almost as eye-catching but easier to wear. Elsewhere, Chiuri and Piccioli continued to explore the butterfly camouflage prints and embroideries that have become best-sellers for the brand. Pretty, but they were no competition for those energetic stripes and colors.
The real stroke of genius here though, was just how deftly that ethereal vision was filtered through into the everyday, like utilitarian bomber canvas jackets and A-line midi skirts that were sprinkled with appliqué butterflies and sensible sandals that came with a handpainted Perspex midi heel. Even the more whimsical pieces, like floral guipure lace dresses, were grounded with a casual sense of ease, layered over crisp white button-downs and worn with chunky white sneakers. It’s functional pieces touched with a sense of fantasy like this that can really make a working wardrobe sing. Overall a very pretty picture indeed.
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Photos: Courtesy of VALENTINO
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'Butterflies by VALENTINO Pre-Fall 2014'
For Pre-Fall VALENTINO designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli used the butterfly as a leitmotif in their new collection, which was also a fitting metaphor for a season that runs the gamut of cozy layering and transformative summer-party dressing.