At Valentino, Freedom of Self-Expression Is a Paramount Value | Savoir Flair
Paris Fashion Week
At Valentino, Freedom of Self-Expression Is a Paramount Value
by Grace Gordon 4-minute read October 2, 2023

For Spring/Summer 2024, Valentino headed back to school – to École des Beaux-Arts, where house founder Valentino Garavani got his start, to be more precise. 

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Like last season, which saw Pierpaolo Piccioli reinventing Black Tie codes, Spring/Summer 2024 saw him in a rebellious mood. Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s first female Prime Minister, has installed a government of fear and coercion, moving quickly to install far-right policies and remove dissidents at Italy’s cultural institutions and its state-run broadcaster (replacing them with sympathetic sycophants). The EU, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, and the European Federation of Journalists have all sounded the alarm, but this movement isn’t just isolated to Valentino’s home country of Italy. It is happening worldwide, and women, in particular, are the recipients of the right’s war on autonomy. 

In reaction to this, Piccioli wanted to find decorative ways to expose the body – cutting away the swaddling yards of fabric of recent collections and displaying the female form. However, he also optioned more covered-up looks like fuss-free flowing dresses and relaxed suiting. The choice of how much you want to show of yourself is yours. 


Kaia Gerber opened the show in an elaborate mini that resembled ornamental cornices or elaborate paper cut-outs. It was a design motif repeated throughout the show and worked to both expose and strategically disguise the anatomy. As the models walked, FKA Twigs and a troupe of dancers conducted an interpretative performance, which was as mesmerizing as what was happening on the runway. 


The decorative embroidered shapes of the collection were then flattened into prints across suits and dresses and resembled Rorschach inkblots. Other looks were made with sparkling netting or came in solid columns with cut-outs. Yet, even with all of the artisanship on display, the collection followed the same pared-back trend that has exploded across nearly every show at Fashion Month. Even the accessories were modest. There were slim cage flats, Birkenstock-esque sandals, and plain sneakers, which shared space with handbags topped with jewelry handles and oversized totes with foldover flaps. 


Overall, it was exciting to see a designer embrace feminist fashion – or the freedom to dress as you choose – not by co-opting from the menswear realm, as so many do, but by working within the codes of femininity and delicacy. 

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It was EXCITING to see a designer embrace feminist fashion – or the FREEDOM to dress as you choose – not by co-opting from the menswear realm as so many do but by working within the CODES of femininity and delicacy

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