Friday, January 27, 2012
Haute Couture 2012: Valentino
A conversation with Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri before the presentation of their new couture collection for Valentino quickly took a turn for the metaphysical. "If you don't think about fashion, you just do clothes," said Piccioli. "Fashion needs culture or it becomes empty." The duo found their cultural spine in the finest flowering of French thought, keying in on the eighteenth century's Age of Enlightenment and particularly the return to "real" values that Rousseau endorsed in his State of Nature philosophy. "Couture is a real value," Piccioli added. "It's not superficial."
But it was Marie Antoinette role-playing in her little farm on the grounds of Versailles who provided the collection's ambience. The first model seemed to arrive in the salons of the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild on a breath of cool country air. Sprigged flower prints covered almost everything. An antique fabric alchemy transformed taffeta into equally antique-looking blurred floral chaîne. The sense of precious old artisanship was also evident in the swirling bouilloné decoration. The volumes were diaphanous, bucolic, like the cloud of point d'esprit scattered with organza lace cutouts. The designers sought a "deep lightness." It was beautifully exemplified in dresses with up to five layers of lace and organza.