This season, Pierpaolo Piccioli took Valentino haute couture to the club, leaving behind the highly elevated feeling he so succesfully conveyed in the last couple or years. His venue, at night, was a famous Paris joint under the Pont Alexandre. His point about standing for inclusivity is definitely intended to be heard by the wider world of young people. “Of course, I love it that haute couture is about the magic of impossible challenges,” he began. “Of course it’s about craft, and we talk about that all the time, but I also love it when couture feels effortless. It’s all about the feeling of having something for yourself. It’s kind of democratic in a way, in the idea of showing this freedom of being whoever you want to be.” On his inspiration board were photos of clubs in the 1980s, ranging from Studio 54 to London’s New Romantic Blitz Club, the Club For Heroes one-nighter and the Taboo, hosted by the outrageous performance artist Leigh Bowery. What all these scenes, underground or jet-set, had in common was that they were hotbeds for generating fashion and havens for what used to be called ‘gender-bending.’ “The difference was that then, it was behind closed doors. Now it’s something we have for life. It’s today’s way of freedom,” he argued. “So I love the idea of a club, but it’s a club for today. Thinking of inclusivity as welcoming people for who they are, and who they want to be. So it’s invitation to be free to be what you want ro be, mixed with the codes of Mr. Valentino in the ’80s.” Still, haute couture formalities were observed in a way – Valentino’s creatures of the night weren’t presented as a wild crowd of dancers, but as models walking on a runway, haute couture standards of solemnity preserved. What emerged from the darkness were pops of color, dark Parisian sexy black transparent lingerie dresses, and many varieties of strategic body-exposure. In 89 looks, Piccioli put forward individualism in tiny pelmet skirts or cutaway bodysuits implanted with giant bows worn with floor-trailing capes, a dress with cutout polkadot portholes, and white shirts and ties styled with micro-minis (one with a dramatic red sequin trench). In overall this wasn’t my favorite Valentino couture moment, but Piccioli definitely had some working on it.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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