If the spring/summer haute couture season opened with two blockbuster shows – Atelier Versace and Dior haute couture – then Giambattista Valli’s collection saw something of a return to the discipline’s old school good manners and restraint in terms of presentation at least.
This was held in the suitably grand salons of the Italian Embassy – think the most spectacular antique crystal chandeliers and elaborate gold plasterwork – with guests perched politely on the requisite gilt-edged chairs.
The clothes too spoke of couture’s mid-Twentieth Century glory days. Sack backs and balloon dresses (both Cristobal Balenciaga signatures), wasp waists and full skirts (Christian Dior) and – in particular – quite the most dramatic floor-sweeping trains. This, then, was about grand entrance dressing, no holds barred.
In Valli’s hands, blossom was crafted out of the most fragile and fluffy feathers: blink and it would be easy to miss the extraordinary workmanship that went into their making. Overblown gowns more worthy of the term meringue than any seen so far were scattered with sparkle. Toughening up the pretty as a princess sweetness that for the most part dominated were chunky bronze leaf and flower belts and chokers, an oversized porcelain tiara and the odd pop of vivid colour too - imperial yellow, to be precise.
Bringing an age old craft form into the modern age is a challenge that every couturier worth his credentials faces these days and in this instance trousers worn where in days of yore a skirt would surely be were a contemporary touch. These looked suitably glamorous in abstracted animal print silk chiffon.