Valentino is always a high point on the Paris fashion calendar. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, joint creative directors of the house since its namesake retired in 2008, prefer to remain behind the scenes, far from the madding crowd. Their intention appears to be to focus on their work over and above the media circus the collections have become and that shows. There is a quiet and even pure beauty to their clothes.
For autumn, they were inspired, they said by Flemish Old Master painting and the result was an almost puritanical simplicity. Such things are relative. Although there was a clarity to this vision and a certain control to the magical designs sent out, no detail was overlooked and embellishment, while rigorous and restrained, was by no means absent. Embroideries sprang from Delft china and also the wrought iron gates that first made an appearance for Valentino haute couture shown in the French capital in Janaury.
The house of Valentino is – and always has been – all about the dress. It came this time short and sweet in ivory, navy and, of course, Valentino red with a square neckline that framed models’ lovely faces. More in black were finished with white leather cut out collars evoking a similarly formal but never heavy effect.
As the show progressed, the hemline dropped as neatly waisted and featherlight chiffon and lace gowns floated down the runway. Every woman in the audience could have been forgiven for wanting to get married in one of them.
This was all in all a finely judged image of womanhood – at once strict and gentle and sensitive above all.