Pierpaolo Piccioli’s dreamy collection challenged the notions on creative freedom via escapism.
There’s beauty and inspiration everywhere, even in the city you call home. This is the creative psyche, which creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli subscribes to, to say the least.
“I was thinking of paradises, about artists’ colonies of the past. There were reasons why artistic people went off to places like that—so they could live their identities,” reported Voguerunway.com on Piccoli’s current point of view.
“Today, everyone is talking about escapism. But I don’t believe in that—l think everyone should just live their identities in the city, or wherever they are,” he further mused.
The city in Piccioli’s case is Rome, the hometown of Valentino where the designer has served a prolific 9 years. Holding the maison’s ateliers with high regard, Piccioli praises its expertises in his corporate bio by enthusing, “Working closely with the artisans and with the Italian expertise has been fundamental. It has allowed me to understand and perceive the rules in order to break them and rewrite them.”
Indeed, the fruition of Piccioli’s “renegade-style” has heightened not just his his profile as a designer but that of the storied house, too. He’s in fact, responsible for bring the house clout more than once — the first in 1999 when he joined the Italian house with long-time design partner, Maria Grazi Chiuri; and then again in 2016 when Chiuri resigned, leaving Piccioli as the maison’s sole creative force.
In this collection, Piccioli showed a stellar wardrobe which despite some of its theatrics, were simple and honest clothes that don’t demand a peerless or striking character to pull them off.
The enigmatic, Kristen McMenamy, opened the show dressed in a diaphanous black gown that would be best described as part fantastical, part sombre. As its parachute-esque volume billowed around the frame of the silver-haired older model, her every catwalk stride conjured up paradiso notions of breezy, far-flung and exotic, sun-kissed locales.
The frock’s unusually deviant and obsidian shade paved the way for the next 13 ebony looks, each underscored with a unique fashion narrative. Model Mariacarla Boscono wore an austere kaftan dress juxtaposed with the excess of black feathers on every hem (which modern-day minimalist gal wouldn’t want this gem in her wardrobe?), while rising runway star Rebecca Leigh Longendyke sported a blouse-and-skirt ensemble that recalled a cool, Nineties sportswear ease.
The sea of black looks also introduced and highlighted the collection’s ubiquitous pleating theme, of which the most charming were the renditions of accordion pleats on kimono-sleeved bodices. These latter works of art offered the feminine silhouette an eye-catching and remarkable fan-like glory.
There were classical permutations of pleating executed on wardrobe-staples, such as the knife-pleated skirts as well. For sex appeal, it was constructed as a wrap-style with a slit cut right up to there, or more specifically the hip bone.
Elsewhere, the neatness of pleats were applied to a low-waist panel on a pilgrim-style shirt dress. The effect was decorative and yet orderly in a way. There was even a trench coat that looked more lightweight than its already silken fabric, thanks to the fluid touches the unkempt pleated structure offered.
The Colours Of Summer
The widow’s colour palette segued into a mini show of scarlett looks, which — but, of course — is the house’s signature hue. For the uninitiated, the crimson hue is the pillar of all collections. Mr Valentino himself has deemed it the only color that can hold a candle with monochromatic blacks and whites.
Piccioli’s flaming frocks came in a variety of styles from a cape dress trimmed with a pussycat bow to a short ballooned-sleeve gypsy-style dress that was an obvious homage to Yves Saint Laurent’s designs in both the ‘70s and ‘80s.
For evening, the designer went all wild and neon bright. Several looks boasted a unique and psychedelic mash-up that also gave a nod to artist Henri Mattisse’s paper cut-out/collage works. Some of the standouts included Princess Magaret of Mustique-worthy sequined column dresses, thigh-skimming tunic dresses and sparkly roomy pajamas.
I’m So Fancy
Piccioli cited Yves Saint Laurent and Marrakech in his theory of great artists and their sacred design havens. The feather references for one, were largely inspired by the infamous black chiffon dress which the late Saint Laurent designed in 1968.
It was hard to decide if the feathers on the footwear were more excessive than the ones used to trim the hemlines of sleeves, dresses and bags. All shoes were embellished extravagantly with feathers, be it espadrilles, men-repelling sandals or classic white sneakers. They added a flight of fancy and a spring with every step.
These elaborate plumes were everywhere that even the brims of the larger-than-life straw hats were not spared.
The bag range saw the debut of the V Ring bag, a flap bag with a name that derives from the ring hardware attached to the trademark “V” buckle. Also available in smaller, evening styles and more supple structures, this new bag boasts tri-colour permutations, as they do more muted/neutrel options with a pop of Valentino red, too.
The show was nothing short of stylistas dressed in their V-best.
All images courtesy of Valentino.