Couture Fashion Week Report: Valentino

27 January 2011

Well the house of Valentino has certainly got its Va Va back. It’s a tough call taking on a house when the designer who started it is still around, loved and missed by clients who included some of the biggest couture shoppers in the world.  The challenge has defeated one designer already and it has taken the current team of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli a few seasons to hit their stride but the show tonight left no one in any doubt that they know what they are doing.

It’s always a bit weird when a new designer comes in and ditches the DNA altogether. We all need to refresh and move on but the style that makes a designer world famous surely has some elements worth preserving. Part of the key to this collection’s appeal was that the Valentino signatures were there but freshened and modernized for a whole new generation of clients.

The chic day dresses (for ladies who have salons, not sitting rooms), the understated but grand evening wear (their girlfriends know at a hundred paces that it’s couture) and the unmistakable femininity (frills for sure but never frou frou) have all been given a 21st Century spin.

The opening dresses had a gym slip simplicity. Pleated skirts, stitched close to hip but swishing free to the knee and with simple shirt styled tops were embroidered with a delicate sprinkling of crystal. A Valentino red version in floor length silk was almost minimal, unadorned and easy in the way effortlessly chic women always seem to be. A column of ivory crepe was perfectly plain in front but had a trim of bows down the back seam to the floor length hem for chic retreats. And the palest candy pink (surely the colour of the season) chiffon waisted, long sleeve gown had a tumble of tiny frills all the way down.

This was a collection with one strong message: that a woman with a fully evolved wardrobe still needs a divine dress. And Pier Paolo and Maris Grazia have them nailed whether the occasion is red carpet, restaurant or, dare I say it, royal wedding.

- Paula Reed in Paris


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