This season, the creative starting point for Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli was the Rome Opera, but you’d be wrong to expect direct, overt references. Apart from an operatic soundtrack, the influence was far more subtle and diluted. In fact, what the designers took back with them from a visit to the Rome Opera workshops was the glamour and opulence of the costumes, which they then applied to their own collection for Spring 2014.
They followed this creative thread back to ancient Rome and presented gladiator-inspired pleated skirts, medallion-printed dresses, and armor-like looks. There was also a surprising amount of references to indigenous, almost tribal dressing – a recurring theme this season. The show notes announced “a journey amidst elements borrowed from imaginary ethnic groups,” but these groups didn’t seem so imaginary. Heavily embroidered pieces with fringe details were reminiscent of Native American tribes, while others bore motifs not unlike the ones found on the walls of ancient Egyptian pyramids. Iconography, which is undeniably linked to the study of cultures, was the focus of the accessories this season. Zodiac medallions and scarab-adorned sandals all played into the underlying theme of the collection. If you think you also spotted a jalabiya or a dirndl in the mix, you’re probably not wrong. In fact, it would seem that the designers deliberately left a question mark hanging over every look as a commentary on the subject of identity.
One of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s most notable strengths is their ability to infuse the most restrained, austere silhouettes with sensuality. Floor-length, long-sleeved dresses were mesmerizing in their movement and flattered the form by cinching the waists of the models or offering glimpses of skin through sheer mesh panels that were cut into the pleats of the dresses. The collection they presented for Spring/Summer 2014 was as regal and elegant and the craftsmanship as flawless and detailed as ever.
Photos: Courtesy of GoRunway