By juxtaposing the dark and the delicate, Valli arrived at a new, thrilling look for his youthful rebel girl.
In the early 1980s, the New York City transit system was the most dangerous on earth. In fact, the whole metropolis teemed with rampant crime, crumbling tenements, and seedy underground nightlife. Graffiti was plastered from one pocket of the island to the next, and brooding civil unrest led the headlines. From the end of one decade into another, NYC was straddling tenuous circumstances. In 1977, Jimmy Carter intervened to bail out the failing city, but it took years before the situation had righted itself.
Out of the muck and mire emerged a new breed of artist, the rough savage who begged, borrowed, and stole in order to cobble together the equipment for guerrilla-style films and concert events. Photographer Nan Goldin was there to capture the visceral grittiness of the scene that birthed the likes of Jean-Michel Basquiat and star-crossed lovers Sid and Nancy. At Giamba for Fall/Winter 2016, Giambattista Valli romanticized the grimey glamor of the 1980s in New York City, particularly inspired by the work of Goldin. By juxtaposing the dark and the delicate, Valli arrived at a new, thrilling look for his youthful rebel girl.
To translate the underground rock scene into his collection more literally, Valli employed crystal guitar decals.
The thesis of this collection rests on Valli’s ugly/pretty hybrids, which fused edgy streetwear with delicate Edwardian dandyism. These arrived in a magnetic mix of styles, like dainty skirts paired with graffiti-splashed jackets or nylon parkas worn with decadent sequined strapless gowns and grungy combat boots. In each look, no matter how adorable, there was a little something to set your teeth on edge. For floaty mini dresses, there were bands of studs around the waist, and for grown-up tweed jackets there were thigh-skimming mini skirts and fishnet stockings. As is to be expected at Giamba, there were lots of lovely mini dresses to choose from. Those mini dresses in question came in a versatile array of styles: one was made entirely out of embroidered black-cat appliqué and came trimmed with full black sequined shoulders and a leather lapel, while others were full lace and totally sheer.
To translate the underground rock scene into his collection more literally, Valli employed crystal guitar decals, which found their way onto several looks. On other looks, the designer took womanly staples and zapped them with fresh new energy by finishing them in unexpected ways. He decorated secretary blouses with come-hither mouth prints, and paired romantic sheer blouses with ruffled jabots and thigh-skimming crystal-embroidered mini skirts and fishnet stockings. The look was a salacious combination of the decadent and depraved. As a whole, the collection was excellent, save for one element: nothing can convince this critic that a zebra print looks modern.