Paris, the most enchanting city on the planet, is as much a fantasy projection as it is a real, breathing metropolis. Paris has been soliloquized, romanticized, and personified for so many centuries that it seems that every living person has an idea of what it is, even if they have never set foot there. For the fashionable, Paris is the center of the universe — a city so beautiful that it grew an entire industry called “Couture” in order that its fashions might keep up with its glittering facades. Paris also happens to be the place that Giambattista Valli has called home for the past 18 years, the place where he has cultivated his name and reputation until the two became inextricably linked. For Spring 2016 Couture, Valli thanks his adopted city by proffering to it an homage in the form of a fragrant bouquet, sculpted in the shape of frothy frocks, shrunken mini dresses, and goddess gowns — a whole garden of them, enough to fill the Palais Royal.
As flowers come in many forms, so do Valli’s couture creations. He launched the show with an adorable array of mini-dresses, outfitted with cape-backed details, ballooning sleeves, turban-like shoulder wraps, or florid ruffles. There were pink rosettes against black lace backdrops, peonies scattered across the surface of voluminous A-line skirts that were lined with tulle, and tiny daisies whispering from the bodice of shrunken dresses. As his flowers bloomed, hemlines dropped to floor-sweeping lengths, as gauzy gowns swished down the runway. Some were topped with truncated bodices or twisted necklines, while others featured pointed bustiers from which shocks of tulle emerged. The finale is where Valli’s extravagant side emerged, with gowns tiered with multiple fabric layers and so voluminous that approaching admirers would be held off by a few feet of tulle. Paris, for all her grandiose splendor, has met her match in Valli’s Spring 2016 Couture collection.