#SuzyCouture: Valentino: Fabulous Folk Fashion
The line up for the Valentino show was stellar: Gwyneth Paltrow in a plunging white dress swinging her blonde hair towards Valentino, who was chatting to Naomi Campbell under her pink hat.
Count in supermodel Natalia Vodianova, and star singer Celine Dion who was in intense conversation with shoe king Christian Louboutin, and that’s not to mention the haute couture clients glittering with diamond necklaces as they perched on their high heels.
But the moment that created the evening’s magic was when current designer Pierpaolo Piccioli led the entire team of hand workers past the wider audience and across the central room to pay homage to founder Valentino Garavani, who became awash with tears at this tribune.
It was both a private ‘family’ moment and a shout-out about real couture, the creative, hand-made, tailored or wildly decorated personal work that is the essence of the rare and endangered high-fashion species.
A diverse series of models wore stunning outfits, starting with buttercup-yellow flower-embroidered bodices growing into a sunshine skirt that looked as though it was a continuation of a hat covered in thick woolen yellow fringes.
Then came orange with lilac, deep and pale turquoise, and a tailored rose-pink coat with pistachio-green trousers. The designer’s sense of colour is both imaginative and impeccable.
“I started the collection with the idea of couture as an expression of individuality, extravagance, diversity, which for me is of the moment,” said Pierpaolo. “For me it is the idea of evaluating diversity. Inclusivity is important to get the couture alive. Otherwise it could be a beautiful world but belonging to the past. It has to be about diversity and extravaganza.”
His words came while standing in front of a trio of mood boards expressing the designer’s vision of beauty from his Italian heritage to the face of an absolute individualist, the fashion icon Diana Vreeland.
“What really links those three boards is that they don’t have a link. That’s the idea,” said Pierpaolo. “It’s about colour, about Renaissance painting, where I am fascinated by its humanity. But in the end, it is about people and the groups they belong to.”
The booklet on each seat displayed the designer’s group: he listed the names of each hand worker – what the French call les petites mains. To that information he added the declaration: “Extravagance is individuality in its purest, rawest form.”
So to the runway, where the show had just a little less of the overwhelming emotion of the summer season’s, which had emphasised models of colour. The autumn/winter offering still expressed in every way the excellence and the individuality of the collection.
There were humble flower patterns, as if extracted from the earth and woven onto a tailored jacket, with a different floral growth in another pattern for the dress beneath. Or it might be a bright green dress and mustard-yellow suede boots with a beige coat tossed on top by Lauren Hutton, one of several mature women to counter-balance the bright young things.
“Individuality is a value to foster and protect because every human being is so different” was a statement that explained the vivid sense of folk art in the show.
Inspiration is a hard thing to define, but Valentino has reached a high spot in the fashion firmament by lifting what might be humble and downtown to a stratospheric fashion level.