I suppose if one is going to insist on doing looks from the 1970s its best to do them with a house that actually did the 70s well the first time around. Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri obviously spent some time going through the Valentino archives and pulling some of his best looks from a decade where he was immensely popular. They then updated those looks both in terms of fabric and with some interesting changes to the silhouettes themselves as well.
If one is looking around for differing opinions on this collection, though, one will certainly find them and I am still rather mixed at this point. There were some points, especially early in the collection that I found to be quite well done, but there are plenty of opposing points of view saying that the looks were too bland and boring (not everyone likes blue). Meanwhile, I found my mind drifting off with a seemingly endless parade of chiffon gowns that have elicited praise elsewhere. Perhaps I’m not the only one who is having some difficulty transitioning to these new Valentino looks.
Strengths in this collection, in my opinion, come from the variation given to some of the early looks. Going with a general theme of light and airy, Piccioli and Chiuri opted to give plenty of room for air flow by simply taking the sides out of a number of looks. Snip, snip, gone. How well this look actually works for a person, however, may well depend upon the wearer’s décolletage . Women of greater size may find those looks gap at bit took much, something that isn’t evident on smaller models. For other ready-to-wear looks there are creative cuts, especially around the shoulders, that update the looks so we don’t always feel that we’re looking at 40 year old silhouettes.
As the collection moves into floral patterns, though, the collection brought back clear memories of the styles my mother once wore. With layers of ruffles and extremely puffy sleeves, only the shorter skirt lengths and an occasional asymmetrical hem keep the looks from being exact copies. Laser cut lace on faux tie dye fabrics was another contemporary riff on the 70s theme that worked very well and those paired with loose knit sweaters are likely to be the most popular.
When the collection first turns to gowns, what one notices is the extreme amount of detail. Intricate embroidery and bead work are the type of luxury for which one doesn’t mind paying several thousand dollars. The designs here are rich and blend nicely into a set of printed silk dresses with a dragon theme. As the gowns move on, and there really are a lot of gowns here, we see more chiffon and the looks move toward more of an ocean theme ending with a fairy princess look covered in starfish.
I’m still trying to get accustomed to a Valentino purposefully void of red. This doesn’t feel natural and especially when looking back at classic Valentino designs the world just doesn’t feel right without that trademark hue. We’ve also seen enough 70s looks and gladiator sandals that much of the novelty is gone. So, opinions are likely to stay mixed on this collection. Those who like it are those who probably will look the best wearing it. Everyone else will wait patiently for next season.
Photo credit: Marcus Tondo