Was This the Strongest Collection at Fall 2018 Couture Week?

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It’s time we grant Pierpaolo Piccioli a new narrative. With homogenizing forces at work as the result of corporate oversight, fashion criticism tends to fall along the same lines, with editors rarely deviating from the prescribed narrative or take.

But Savoir Flair doesn’t do cookie-cutter critiques.

With Maria Grazia Chiuri currently secured at Dior, and Piccioli on his own for the 13th show (including menswear) without his longtime partner, the predominant takeaway from his breathtaking shows is still that he is doing just fine on his own. Granted. But after so many spotlight-stealing seasons, that’s practically a foregone conclusion.

Instead of retreading the same worn tire, let’s point Piccioli in a new direction. Fashion’s creative side has been sounding a death knell, as long-standing independent houses fall to conglomerate ownership, designers with more hype than substance helm major fashion houses, and the consumer rapidly reframes how the industry operates on a daily basis.

On this beige horizon, it is Valentino that stands apart, and Piccioli is responsible for its singular vision. After his solo tenure at the legendary Italian maison, one can only conclude that he is one of the last vestiges of true creatives still working in fashion. He’s the man bringing emotion and authenticity back to the metier. That’s his narrative.

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

For Fall 2018 Couture at Valentino, you really feel like you were looking at Couture with a capital “C”. So much so, that the audience’s teary eyes and emotive response to the show registered across the digital space of social media.  The fabrications were rich and vivid, the prints were eccentric and spellbinding, and the tailoring was impeccable – which can be hard to do when working with voluminous silhouettes.

Elegant, striking, powerful – this collection contained looks you could stare at forever, get lost in, and never recover from.

In fact, volume could be the key to unlocking Piccioli’s artistry, as he has consistently excelled at turning massive, modest lengths into works of wonder. His creations are head-turning to the max – recall Frances McDormand’s extravagant Met Gala look for example – and audacious in a way that keeps the eye trained on the subject. Oh, and did we mention nearly all of the looks have pockets? Someone really does get what women want.

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

Elegant, striking, powerful – this collection contained looks you could stare at forever, get lost in, and never recover from. Yet, its shapes were lounge-y and leisurely in a way that suggested the wearer had nothing but time; that is the ultimate luxury, after all. We could describe in detail the collection’s wildly unexpected color combinations – as in the case of a dusky rose hued dress with a cape-back which ended in a surprising puddle of bright emerald green sequins – or its mesmerizing, vibrant prints. We could write epic odes to its ruffled, tiered capes, and enormous floor-scraping gowns. But really, the only thing that does it all justice is seeing it in person, and barring that, via photo. Sometimes pictures say it better than words.

What the clothes granted in terms of technique and craft, the overall showmanship of the collection boosted, with heaping doses of fashion drama. Piccioli sent Kaia Gerber down the runway with a truly massive bouffant hairdo and an equally massive blush pink fully-feathered gown and we had to wonder: What are you trying to do? Give us a heart attack? And if to answer in the affirmative, he then sent the eternally graceful Lineisy Montero down next in a towering flowered chapeau and a flouncy Valentino Red strapless gown. Be still, our hearts. If you live for catwalk drama, the hits just kept coming.

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