PFW: VALENTINO A/W 2015

Valentino
Valentino A/W 2015. Photo credit: Yannis Vlamos / Indigitalimages.com

Yes, I saw them. Yes, it was hilarious. Yes, it totally overshadows the Chanel show from this morning, and possibly even the Alexander McQueen show tonight. I was waiting, hoping the mass hysteria caused in those few seconds would die down. Obviously, that’s not going to happen. But first, let’s talk about the clothes.

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the labels creative directors, are more than just brilliant designers, they are storytellers. We’ve learned since they’ve been at the helm to expect something unusual, collections that start in one place and end elsewhere with plenty of travel in between. This season was certainly no different and right from the start it was apparent that they were giving us a set of clothes quite different than what we’ve seen from them, the label or anyone else in Paris.

One likely needed the advantage of the designer’s notes to understand today’s story. Emilie Louise Floge, the companion of Gustav Klimt, is represented by the dresses that mix black and white checks and stripes. British textile designer Celia Birtwell, the widow of the late fashion designer Ossie Clark, is represented in the elaborate fabrics we see later in the collection. Between the two, the designers have created a story of blossoming romance that is a fashionable fairytale.

So, we see silhouettes that start very long, almost medieval, with capes and high necks tied with bows. They make for pretty pictures, but whether anyone is actually going to want to go to the trouble of putting all this on I can’t say. The Op Art factor is extremely unique, though, and one we’ve not seen applied this way, at least not within my accessible memory. Tiers of lace and tulle move the collection from the austere toward a stronger sense of contemporary beauty, but we never lose the longer forms and a sense of the historic.

Beware of dragons,  for they are beautifully embroidered on dresses and tunics. Once color is introduced, the romanticism ramps dramatically as does the level of detail brought into the clothes, which get suddenly very sheer toward the end. Whether or not Ms. Birtwell, who is still living, had any direct influence on these pieces was not stated, but without question her influence is heavy in the rich tapestries and textures of the latter half of the collection.

Then, the music changed. We went from a brooding, romantic, orchestral track that very much fit the collection to The Human League’s “Don’t You Love Me,” the lights went down and, from opposite sides of the set they made their appearance: Derek Zoolander and Hansel. The entire audience was immediately in hysterics and no one could reach for their cell phone fast enough. Even Anna Wintour laughed, something I don’t think I’ve seen her do during a runway presentation. From that moment forward, social media has talked of nothing else. Within 15 minutes, my inbox was full of “Did you see this?” messages and the craze still hasn’t died down. At this point, tomorrow morning’s Louis Vuitton show may even be in danger of overshadowing.

And in case you didn’t know, Zoolander 2 is due in theaters sometime in the summer of 2016. Perhaps they’ll let Chiuri and Piccioli design the costumes. That only seems fair, doesn’t it?

 

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