#SuzyPFW: Valentino Rises Like The Moon
“Lots of fashion, super Valentino, ruffles, symbols – but to see them from a different perspective and make extraordinary ordinary things,” said Pierpaolo Piccioli of a collection that was wildly cheered as the models climbed the iron steps of a historic Paris lycée.
As Valentino Garavani himself went to congratulate Pierpaolo, with flanks of clients and designer Alber Elbaz all giving air kisses, the fashion crowd celebrated the now-perfect match between how Valentino collections used to be and how they are now.
In some ways, this was the most relaxed, even sporty, collection Pierpaolo has ever done, embracing layers of casual pieces and using fine fabrics to create the shapes of short-skirted, dynamic and contemporary clothes.
At the other end of the fashion spectrum were the evening dresses that the designer treats with gentility and lightness, as if these were fairy robes with a mythical story attached. And so they were.
“I started this collection with the idea of ‘Orlando Furioso’, the 16th-century epic poem by Ludovico Ariosto, where Orlando loses his mind for love and his best friend flies to the moon to recover his sanity,” Pierpaolo explained. “I really like the idea of the moon as the place where we find what is lost in the heart. So the moon is a second opportunity. And I have always been impressed by the Apollo 8 mission – the first three people who flew beyond gravity.”
These glimpses inside an artist’s mind feel like a privilege. But the designer has managed to turn his deepest thoughts into the lightest clothes. Even the opening outfits with plastic coverings on jackets or tops had not just a sweetness, but a sense that the designer had melded the shapes of sportswear with high-fashion materials. The shimmering, slithering effects in dawn pink worked equally well on sporty or dressier pieces.
The clothes became increasingly delicate as the show – and its time of day – moved on. Pieces fitted together to make patterns with the way the cutting techniques were interspersed with pieces of lace or chiffon, embedded with tiny flowers.
The artistic Pierpaolo, who wears his historic erudition lightly, spoke also of being influenced by Federico Fellini’s 1990 film, The Voice of the Moon, which referenced its romance and effect on the soul. Maybe that was where a burning red appeared as though the relatively sporty clothes had been caught in the sunset. Even simple evening dresses with one diagonal frill had a simplicity in the flow of fabric.
Why has Pierpaolo got things so right – even after the departure to Dior of his design partner of 26 years, Maria Grazia Chiuri? The answer must be that he is proud to be designing for Valentino, where he has worked for more than 15 years. And that he has gently transformed the ladylike daywear of Valentino Garavani, understanding that these gracious ladies have turned into women with their lives in their own hands.
Valentino himself recognises the fashion miracle that has left him with a legacy that is moving forward with renewed vigour and direction. Talking and laughing together after the show, their joy and excitement were touching to behold.