Couture Week Show Report: Valentino

26 January 2012

Really there was only one thing everyone was talking about today and that was Valentino. Paris saved the best for last. PierPaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri, who took over at the 53 year old fashion house, have steered the brand into couture poll position in an increasingly competitive market. Everyone is trying to identify and snap up the moneyed young customer. If she has any sense at all she will be fanning out her credit cards and heading straight to their showroom in Place Vendome.

For decades, Valentino Garavani was the go-to guy for the world’s socialites. He dressed Jackie Onassis for her wedding. He dressed Elizabeth Taylor for the Oscars and Cannes. He dressed Julia Roberts in ‘vintage’ and started a trend that is still going strong.  He was beloved by crowned heads and celebrities alike.  With the designer still living, it has been a tough challenge taking over but Pier Paolo and Maria Grazia who worked with Val on accessories, have nailed it.

Delicate water silks were woven with chintzy patterns in such a way that they looked as soft as an impressionist painting. Chiffon dresses that looked breezily light were printed with meadow flowers. Frilled collars of tulle and lace peaked out above collarless jackets worn over A line skirts. Materials that could so easily have been mumsy (think of how badly wrong those florals, taffetas and lace could have gone) looked refreshingly young and unexpectedly modern.

There was a quiet elegance about this collection that was like a glass of mint tea after a week of tequila slammers. And the most skillful trick was that while the designers made the collection entirely their own, it was full of respect for the founding father: Valentino’s signature white suits, frilled trims, lace dresses, A line silhouettes and meadow florals were all there, reminiscent of a rich past but representative of a reserve of talent and sensitivity of touch that promises brilliant things for the future.

Now where on earth did I leave that winning lottery ticket.


by Paula Reed in Paris


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