Fashion designers, like so many creative types, are incredibly sensitive to the environment around them. This sensitivity is such that a simple moment, a simple image, a simple thought can inspire them for months on end. In the case of Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, it was a visit to the Rome Opera last year that impacted their creative sensibilities. The brand’s Spring/Summer 2014 Ready-to-Wear collection was inspired by the craft of the opera costume designers and, this couture season, the designers return to the Opera with a collection entirely inspired by different operas – 55 to be exact.
The presentation opened with an ethereal tulle gown bearing the score of Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata, and proceeded to float through a dizzying amount of variety – even for this duo. No sooner had we found comfort in the house’s signature floor-length, austere silhouettes than we were startled out of it by heavy cashmere coats, fringed scarves, and dresses bearing lion heads, leopard prints, gorillas, and other animals. The references to nature continued as snakes and swans wrapped themselves around the waists of tulle tutus.
While we couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief when the animal menagerie was relegated back to the zoo and Valentino’s craftsmanship could once again take center stage in the form of heavily embroidered wonders, elegant proportions, and flowing fabrics, we knew full well that the beauty of couture is in risk taking. And, while this was certainly a risky move for the brand, Chiuri and Piccioli pulled it off beautifully.
Photos: Courtesy of GoRunway