Valentino’s Subtle Revolution
October 06th, 2009 @ 3:27 PM - Paris
Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli ushered in a new era for the Roman house Tuesday, Oct. 6, in Paris with their first ready-to-wear hit collection. Theirs is a surreal and mysterious Valentino, not a bad metaphor for these uncertain times where fashion really needs emotion to stimulate desire and consumer demand.
Despite being decade-long staffers at Valentino, they are intent in radically remodeling the brand’s oeuvre. Where their first couture collection in January was very much the restoration of the old guard, their latest runway outing was an insurrectionary moment.
Valentino once stood for class and an opulent display of wealth, but this new Valentino was all about sensitive chic with a mysterious spin.
Rather than ripping up the Valentino DNA, however, they have reinvented it. This was clear from their first four looks, which were short, volume cocktail dresses in faille with huge bows that managed to stay just on the right side of extravagant.
Chiuri and Piccioli have been at Valentino for too long not to respect the house’s canons, but they took some bold risks when using sheer fabrics, a famed Valentino signature. They went with bolder, more visible fabrics and then threw on a lot of erratically placed crystals, mesh or metal touches, making the look very evocative. The pair hit their stride with a series gilded frocks, in a broken grid pattern that had a charming ghostly quality.
There was also just the right dose of commercial product, in particular dresses with multiple ruffles and suits, the standout being a mauve leather suit with miniskirt and bomber jacket that was a real eye opener.
“We wanted to inject emotion into fashion and into Valentino. Images that move you,” explained Piccioli in the backstage post-show.
The staging was well-executed, too, consisting of a silver wooden runway and huge, pale gray walls on which were projected beautiful images of orchids, the same flower that figured prominently in prints throughout this show. A custom-made soundtrack featuring the plaintiff tones of cult band Anthony and the Johnsons was suitably atmospheric.
If there were any doubt that this was a quiet rebellion, then note that there was not one drop of Valentino’s signature color – red. It was an evocative revolution at Valentino, but not a red one.