Giambattista Valli is one designer who knows how to produce a dramatic runway show! With his newest F/W 2014 presentation, the designer took his showmanship to a new level.
Basically, Signor Valli presented a chic but relaxed version of his familiar lux belle-of-the-ball clothing. Mr. Valli has sought to loosen up couture in the past and this season he strives even further to achieve this goal. He describes the mood of this collection to be “a late-sixties, early-seventies kind of freedom and eccentricity,” and drew his inspiration mainly from the glamorous jet-setting crowd of that time.
Inspired by world travelers, the collection is full of the opulence of bygone eras, with models strutting down the runway in turban-like headscarves and large round sunglasses à la Bette Davis. You can envision the Valli woman lounging by the pool in a country club, or sunbathing on a Mediterranean beach just as easily as you can see her being the belle of a high society ball.
This collection is a departure from the normal offerings that you’ve come to expect from a Fall presentation, with the majority of the looks seeming more appropriate for a summer collection. Instead of the expected showcase of heavy coats and furs, Mr. Valli supplies his clients with lightweight jackets in silk and linen, fluttery floor-skimming capes, caplets and shrug jackets of vibrant monkey-fur (it’s goat hair). It’s a unique take on the traditional Fall collection, but as Mr. Valli says, his clients don’t need to wrap up against the cold because they’ll be holidaying darling! If they stay in chillier climes however, he proposes they drape one of his breezy covers around their shoulders and wear it like a high-drama cape. Giambattista Valli, you’re a man after my own heart!
This devil-may-care attitude pervaded throughout the entire show, with Mr. Valli going against his norm in terms of both runway styling and presentation. Models were sent zigzagging down the runway so that by the time one look made it to the end of the ramp, three ensembles were making their way across the stage (fab!). This brilliantly unique presentation allowed the audience to get a panoramic view of the collection; granting them the ability to view the entire scope of designer’s vision.
The runway styling was on point, with breezy separates being paired with opulent evening wear. This resulted in casual shirts being tucked into grand evening skirts, loose jackets were worn over airy gowns and bathing suit bottoms peeked out from beneath gossamer sheaths. It was a charming effect and the designer succeeded in showing a remarkably modern approach to vintage-inspired dressing. Mr. Valli demonstrated his ability to push beyond his normal boundaries and present something thoroughly and thoughtfully original.
In many ways it was a show of innovation, with the designer presenting his widest array of separates to date. Button-down shirtdresses, linen skirts and trousers, slouchy pyjama-like coats and jackets and loose boyfriend shirts were all shown, many times being paired to stunning effect with graphic prints. This progressed into more structured looks as the show went on; easy dresses and floor-length skirts, then on to luncheon suits and cocktail dresses.
Stripes and gorgeous colors were a big look this season. Graphic lines crossing outfits in every direction, pale vertical motifs decorated expertly rolled-up trousers and shirts, while bold horizontal stripes sectioned off paneled skirts. Pastel chevron prints were saved for fussier skirts and dresses.
Throughout though, house designs and touches typical of a Giambattista Valli show were to be seen. The designer embraced his love for flowers by sprinkling blossoms of wisteria, poppies and roses all over jackets, cocktail dresses and airy skirts. Lush floral embroidery and sequined embellishments were applied to flared skirts of lace and tulle, while 3D blossoms decorated the necklines of gowns and covered sleek sheafs. The designer also indulged his penchant for draped fabrics, allowing the occasional swag to fall across the bodice and down the shoulders or to cascade from the hip line in sweeping planes.
The finale looks were like something out of a fairytale, with grand skirts of undulating tulle ruffles and ostrich feathers being showcased in a dégradé of vivid colours. Ombré shading was used to its best effect here with the gowns fading from off-white to citrus yellow, sea-foam green to cream, and blush pink to magenta.
I fell in completely in love. It’s an interesting collection for me, as it’s the closest that the designer has ever come to achieving pared-down couture. As his aim is to make couture more accessible and adaptable, he produced garments that easier fit into a modern wardrobe where outfits are often required to be both daytime and evening appropriate.
I appreciate this deconstructed approach to luxury wear. Don’t get me wrong- while I love the glamour and fuss that is associated with the traditional ideal of haute couture, I definitely appreciate the way Signor Valli constantly strives to modernize this established classical design aspect. His point of view is always refreshing and he presents his clients with so many options that he makes it easy for them to incorporate luxury items into their everyday wardrobe.
My only critique is his lack of heavier options for winter wear- as someone who gets chilled by the slightest breeze, I need something warmer. Regardless, this collection definitely showcased Mr. Valli’s prowess as a master couturier.
All-in-all it’s a fabulous collection, and I appreciate every piece! The Giambattista Valli Fall/winter 2014 is much too fierce!