Now let me say upfront that Valentino is one of my favourite designers, so I may be a little biased when it comes to my overall feelings about the collection.
Valentino Couture premiered it’s Fall/winter 2014 Collection at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild on June 9th, and it is something else! Inspired by Pre-Raphaelite art, designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli delivered a collection that is opulent, airy and undeniably feminine.
Over the past few seasons the duo has sent out couture collections teaming with breathtaking embellishments and detail work that pushed their atelier to new limits. This time, the designer team explored a scaled back approach, crafting a collection of clean lines with minimal fuss, proving that their talent at crafting exquisite pieces of wearable art.
The duo did Signor Garavani proud by producing a collection that stays true to Valentino’s pure aesthetic, while reinventing it with darker, edgier elements. There is a whisper of the tragic figure of Ophelia to be seen in the spare colour palette, leather accents, plain ornamentation and monochromatic prints, but the overall effect is one of romance and delicacy. “It’s our past we’re thinking about,” said Ms. Chiuri. “Something graceful, regal and a bit more pagan, this time.”
This discord resulted in a fall collection with a full scope of offerings; simple looks appeared next to extravagant haute couture pieces, with some separates and day wear thrown into the mix. Clients can choose from a selection of un-ornamented blouses and dresses, simple evening gowns patterned with unfussy intarsia motifs, floor-skimming formal skirts and jackets. THEN there are the pieces truly worthy of the label of couture!
Lushly embroidered brocade gowns and jackets, paneled dresses made of flat lace ruffles, evening skirts heavy with metallic beading, fluttering goddess robes…the list goes on! There’s even a little gold lamé included for the glittery divas (like me)! The most extraordinary pieces are a skirt and coat fashioned from panels of 17th-century tapestries. My art and history loving brother would probably have a stroke, but the pieces are gorgeous!
It’s a collection with a lot of contrast and austerity that very much heightened its impact. The designers played with a lot of textures in this collection- mixing chiffon, silk crepe, tulle and net with more substantial brocades and winter silks. Unexpected details like those leather accents, ostrich feathers and patterned furs made for a striking show.
The result is one of the collection of a modern goddess. The demure restraint of the Valentino woman is apparent in the long-sleeve dresses and below-the-knee hemlines in transparent fabrics. Roman-inspired accents further enliven the looks with elegant draping reminiscent of wrapped togas, plain tunics and gladiator sandles. It’s a fresher, more youthful approach to Goddess dressing, and very much in keeping with the designers’ modern vision of “an ethereal, pagan goddess on the way to the temple.” Ahhhh… speak to me Valentino!
This youthful mood extended into the show’s setting with the catwalk itself being a wooden floor lined with lush garden hedges. Runway styling was also in tune, with the models sporting comfortable sandles and no jewelry. Hair and makeup was kept suitably nymph-like, with models showed off long, wavy tresses and nearly nude faces.
Adaptability seems to be the trend that’s being pushed by many designers- not just here at Maision Valentino, but all over the runways of the Paris Haute Couture Week. Designers have been pushing to bridge the gap between traditional haute couture and prêt-à-porter for years, but this Fall 2014 season marks the closest that many of them have ever come to making such a big connection.
It’s a nice idea, allowing women to include the height of luxury into their everyday wardrobe, but could it ever realistically be done? And if so, how many would be willing to pay the couture price for items that could just as easily be found off the rack? Could this season be the start of a new age of haute couture, where modern adaptability replaces the traditional pomp and circumstance? Only time will tell, but I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.
The show was thoroughly gorgeous, with a wonderful mix of romance, realism and rawness. The designer’s approach to their vision resulted in an haute couture collection that could actually work in a contemporary woman’s closet. If you couldn’t tell, I absolutely love it!