Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema was a Victorian painter who liked to depict archaeological fantasies of scantily draped girls lounging around Roman villas. Had he been alive last Thursday and at the VALENTINO haute couture show, he’d hardly been able to contain himself. Every one of the looks Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli sent out were inspired by the works of Pre-Raphaelite painters and poets, but first among them was a white draped tunic dress named after Alma-Tadema’s sultry study of a sleeping nymph, The Siesta, of 1868.
Discover the VALENTINO F/W '14/15 Haute Couture show at the end of this post!
VALENTINO Haute Couture backstage, close up of the finale look:
40 meters of lamé and 2.000 hours of application work. The design depicts
an imaginary merry-go-round!
Forget historical exactitude, though. This collection was about a pair of Roman fashion designers conjuring up lyrical impressions of the ancient Imperial days of their own city, and building them into a new fantasy, from the delicately cross-laced Roman sandals up. “It’s our past we’re thinking about,” said Chiuri. “Something graceful, regal and a bit more pagan, this time.”
The clever combination of romance and relevance that is coming out of Valentino these days seems completely instinctive and unforced. On the one hand, there’s a grounded sense of how young women want to dress (it’s pretty handy that Chiuri has her eighteen-year-old daughter Rachele for reality checks) and on the other, there are the superb technical abilities which put the house in the category of up-there-on-clouds excellence. That sensible sensibility has already brought the long, lace Renaissance-inspired dress to fashion. It continues for fall with breathtakingly complex silver beaded embroidery, trailing in layers, and wondrous gilded gowns with tabard bodices.
The new thing is simplicity, or rather, silhouettes which are unencumbered by any surface decoration. It’s a truism in fashion that these things are even more difficult to accomplish than any amount of froth and beading. Yet there’s absolutely no panic about that at Valentino. The stark, noble toga dresses and subtly dramatic constructs of draped and knotted silk in this collection carry the hallmarks of perfectionism that has been native to this house ever since Mr. Valentino Garavani set it up in the fifties. The upshot: What we’re seeing here is the gradual reaching out to different kinds of women, or maybe it’s the same women, in a different mood. And whichever way we look at it, Chiuri and Piccioli are turning their Roman couture fantasy into business reality. Such is the success of their work that they say they’ve taken on 30 more people in their couture ateliers to meet the growing demand.
Design duo Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Photo Credit/Source: The House of VALENTINO
Photographer: Kevin Tachman & Yannis Vlamos (Indigitalimages)
More To Love ...
'Palais des Lumières' entitled Elie Saab his Fall/Winter '14/15 Haute Couture collection, which was presented last Wednesday 9th July, 2014, at Pavillon Cambon Capucines, 46 rue Cambon. As always, it was that kind of a fairytale show, and if there’s one thing that Elie Saab does very well, it’s a fairytale dress.
Photo by ANDREA JANKE via Instagram