Valentino took cues from early religious garb for an elegant collection of long robes and embroidered dresses.
Fashion’s new modest direction can be traced back to Valentino when Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri took over and began injecting the maison with the language of the baroque. That meant high-necked, long-sleeved gowns in elegant floor-sweeping lengths that name-checked multiple eras in fashion’s history from medieval and Edwardian to present times – and many imitators followed suit.
Now Piccioli is on his own, and he has had no trouble in recalibrating his solo Valentino ventures according to his own unique vision. For Fall 2017 Couture, his point of origin was the work of Spanish painter Francisco de Zurbarán who is known for two things: his religious paintings of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, various Cardinals, and other Catholic icons, and his excellent, lifelike representation of fabric. As a result, like a Zurbarán painting, Piccioli’s collection highlighted priestly garb and rich, beautiful materials.
Valentino’s long hooded capes and elegantly draped robes appeared as if they had practically walked off a Zurbarán painting.
Early looks featured vintage-inspired color-blocking achieved by stacking disparate hues together – like taupe trousers, an ivory cape, a mint-green turtleneck, a pink top, and a burnt-sienna vest. Save for painterly accents, these early looks were unadorned and unembellished, lending weight to the notion of religion’s influence on the collection. Likewise, Valentino’s long hooded capes and elegantly draped robes appeared as if they had practically walked off a Zurbarán painting, save for the fact that they were worn by lithe models instead of priests.
What was surprising was the sheer amount of daywear in the collection, addressed in large part by the aforementioned color-blocked looks. Smart looks for the office could even be conjured by crisp white trousers, bright mackintoshes, and the finesse of a perfectly cut “millennial pink” dress with asymmetrical seaming across the collarbone. Eveningwear was predictably wonderful, comprised of floor-length dresses with plissé panels that were upholstered in multi-colored bespoke lace, elaborately embroidered gowns, and sheer tulle dresses with clusters of 3D appliqués at the bosom. The brand’s signature crimson hue, known as “Valentino Red”, appeared at the finale, closing the show on a note that was anything but monastic.