The striking Fall 2013 Couture display at Valentino may, at first glance, look familiar. Even the most tomboyish girl in the crowd has come across fairytale queens and princesses at some point, even if it was just a portrait of Marie Antoinette in the pages of a history book. Such fantastic images leave a deep impression – the clothes are so exquisite, the details so extravagant. Who but royalty could wear such garments? Valentino, in recent years, has redefined that royal look better than anyone. Taking inspiration from history and reinterpreting it for the modern era is not an easy task; one false step and you’ll be called derivative. The brand’s latest couture collection is refined and regal – befitting a modern-day princess or capable of transforming even the lowliest among us into one.
Influences ranged by region and decade. Represented in the presentation was 15th century Renaissance-period garb, Victorian-era Europe, the opulence of the Ottoman Empire during its heyday, and the Meiji Period of the Empire of Japan when modernity finally crept over the border. Details moved swiftly between the elaborate and the serene. There were gowns scored with sequins, paillettes, prints, embroidery, and fur. The looks that were minimal were finished with incredible attention to detail. There was an exquisitely tailored wool/tweed cape and matching calf-length pencil skirt that offered a minute sliver of flesh at the belly, discreetly covered by a patch of see-through lace. A matronly gray wool frock was updated with tiny chunks cut out at the shoulder.
The reason that Valentino tests the waters with a nonlinear show narrative is because Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli are purposefully moving toward a theme that is disparate and diverse. The salons of the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, decorated with curiosities like corral and animal heads, were an inspiration to the duo. For that reason, we see capes etched with silver thread and crystal rosettes next to stiff origami-like gowns, and wallpaper prints alongside lace lingerie. When they took over the label, Chiuri and Piccioli’s new vision for Valentino was groundbreaking. Now that they’ve established their dominion over all things beautiful, they’re working consistently toward taking our breath away.
Photos: Courtesy of GoRunway