25 Jan VALENTINO’S 2019 COUTURE COLLECTION AND WHY EVERYONE WON’T STOP TALKING ABOUT IT
On Wednesday evening, Creative Director of Valentino Pierpaolo Piccioli delivered a perfect harmony of grand volumes and vibrant color, signatures which he continues to find new ways to express. While staying true to the traditional idea of what couture means and represents, Piccioli’s outstanding collection, his diverse cast and flamboyance communicated succinctly to the mesmerized audience, even bringing a few to tear. The dresses cascaded in graduated tiers, there were princess lines that fell into sweeping trains and vast tent shapes, working in both pastels and bold jewel tones. Throughout, a stunning floral euphoria was realized through the exquisite fabrics and remarkable craftsmanship at the heart of couture — embroideries, ruffles, appliqués, and lacework. Some models seemed transformed into flowers themselves, their heads and eyes encircled in petals. It was breathtaking.
The designer’s unforgettable show was said to be inspired in part by a Cecil Beaton photograph. One of couture’s most iconic images, Cecil Beaton’s 1948 photo consists of a bevy of beautiful women done up for a grand event in lavish Charles James gowns. Featuring only white women in typical couture costume complete with makeup and dresses, the photo mirrored everything couture represents for that era. Now, at a time when cultural nuances are most debated on and people are starting to wonder at the fashion relevance of couture, Piccioli successfully attempted to reenact the past in a modern state while staying true to the concept of couture, which is beauty, flamboyance, and transcendence. The Photo was redone in the most age- appealing sense with his interesting model cast including Natalia Vodianova, Mariacarla Boscono, and Alek Wek, a lineup of dominantly black women and jaw-dropping dresses. “I don’t believe in modernizing couture,” Piccioli said. “Couture has to be couture, but you can look it at in a different way.”
“… the beautiful pictures of couture from the beginning, you only see one kind of woman — white WASPs. You never see a strong black woman….It’s about embracing that idea of uniqueness, which is couture.”
If Piccioli was ever in doubt about the choices he made, he only had to look to his spell-bound audience for confirmation. Renowned singer and fashion lover Celine Dion was among the many brought to tears by the compelling show. As seen on Instagram, it was a stunning bright yellow taffeta gown with a giant bow on the back that brought on Dion’s waterworks. Some fans also duly pointed out that the song playing as the model walked was Roberta’s Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” — the same one that played at Dion’s wedding to her late husband René Angélil for their first dance—so that undoubtedly played a part. She is well-known for her robust enthusiasm at these fashion events as seen in Giambattista Valli’s 2018 couture collection as well as Alexander Vauthier and several more. This Valentino show, however, can be said to really set the bar high. Amassing rare reviews from fashion editors, critics, and fashion enthusiasts, this show will undoubtedly be one of fashion’s biggest references for the rest of the year.
To cap it all off, supermodel Naomi Campbell made an epic comeback after fourteen years to close the Valentino show. Making an unexpected appearance on the catwalk, Campbell donned the final look, a sumptuous transparent black gown designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli, looking like a dream. It was indeed, a fitting end to one of couture’s most exciting shows this season.
Imagery by Maison Valentino.