On a perfect Paris-in-the-springtime day yesterday, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paulo Piccioli showed their A/W '11 collection for Valentino, with singer and girl du jour, Florence Welch and ex model and modern style icon Natalia Vodianova sitting front row. After the success of their S/S collection – which not only has been worn by every starlet with an ounce of style nous and was heralded by the fashion press, but even received a standing ovation from the brand's founder and retired designer, Valentino Garavani, – this collection was always going to be watched with keen interest; would they be able deliver this time 'round? The answer – a resounding yes.
For autumn/winter the pair introduced much more in the way of daywear (S/S was more focused on after 6pm). There was a nod to the sixties, with all the girls wearing their hair swept back into a loose ponytail (even the bobbed haired Arizona Muse had one clipped on!) and teased into a gentle beehive, secured with a black velvet ribbon hairband. This theme carried through into the clothes; A-line skirts that hit just above the knee worn with thigh length princess coats and heeled knee boots, long line cardigans with matching knit skirts and small structured bags dangled from the models' shoulders from whip thin straps.
The colour palette had the audience longing for winter – aubergine, garnet, dirty pink and petrol blue were the mainstays, with injections of poison green and duck egg blue in the eveningwear. It was very modern, very pretty and very wearable. Actually you could use those same adjectives to describe the collection as a whole. Although there were some truly exquisite pieces in there, nothing was tricksy or overworked, just easy elegant and right for now. These are clothes you can imagine women wearing (wealthy women with a very glamourous life, granted. God how I long to be one of those women!)...I can totally see Florence Welch working the red carpet in the duck egg chiffon shirt-waister maxi, or the final look of the show - a patterned beaded gown worn by Freja Beha, that dipped into a v neck with a floor skimming gently A-line skirt. Or Natalia V, effortlessly chic in the petrol dress that looked like a skinny-knit sweater tucked into an A line lace skirt. Or Kate Middleton for that matter, working the crowds on a royal engagement in the emerald green soft leather trench or meeting heads of state in a divinely pretty lace cocktail dress with a fluttering plice skirt. Or me in the sludgy pink nipped waist dress, adorned with chevrons of tiny beads. Well, a girl can dream...
- Siobhan Mallen in