Pierpaolo Piccioli makes people get emotional (and Celine Dion shed tears of joy) over his couture. Does his ready-to-wear for Valentino spark the same reactions? Pretty much yes. His autumn-winter 2019 collection was an ode to love. A theme that might be so easily clichéd in fashion got beautifully poetic on Piccioli’s runway. “I feel that people are looking for emotion and dreams—but not distant dreams,” he said today before the show. “I want to create a community for Valentino. I mean something different from ‘lifestyle,’ which is about owing objects. It’s about people who share values.” Valentino’s community has many faces, and this season Pierpaolo made them even more vocal. First, the choice of models who walk the Valentino runway as of late utterly cement the normalisation of inclusive casting. You’ve got Adut Akech open the show in a voluminous coat, and Maria Carla Boscono wear a gorgeous black gown. Then, we’ve got artistic individuals that leave their mark on Piccioli’s fashion. Jun Takahashi of Undercover started collaborating with Valentino’s menswear last season, and his contribution goes on here as well. This time the designers morphed together a print of a 19th-century neoclassical sculpture of kissing lovers with an image of roses. It appeared on pretty much everything, and wasn’t necessarily a subtle detail. And then there are the poets. Poetry in fashion always seemed to be a good idea just in case of Ann Demeulemeester and her long-time friend, Patti Smith. In case of Valentino, the concept wasn’t overly intellectual or profound, but digestible for the eye. Picciolli commissioned the Scottish poet and artist Robert Montgomery and the three young writers – Greta Bellamacina, Mustafa The Poet and Yrsa Daley-Ward – to contribute to a slim volume, Valentino on Love, which was left on seats for the audience. An illuminated billboard with lines by Montgomery stood at the end of the runway, reading, “The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive.” The words carried on to live in Piccioli’s designs and the lines were printed (or embroidered) inside coats, tulle dresses, inside of bags and boots. In terms of fashion, this was a line-up of incredible matchings. An orange jacket with feathers was worn over a hoodie – refined, yet fresh. There were as many couture-ish silhouettes (like the yellow cape-coat or the finale dresses) as sublime daywear (think soft tailoring, flared mid-lenght skirts and classical little black dresses). Love’s in the air, in every single aspect.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Pierpaolo Piccioli’s couture for Valentino is the only couture that matters. No crazy venues that attempt to distract you from noticing how plain the collection is (I see you, Dior and Chanel). Just pure, joyous, glorious haute couture that enchants and truly impresses. And makes Celine Dion cry. This spring-summer 2019 collection, reserved for the richest and most extravagant women on our planet, was a triumph of audacious colour, beauty and glamour. But also, it was a major model casting breakthrough, with completely diverse models that made the garments even more exquisite. The designer embraced black beauty, having Adut Akech open the show (in a brilliant, pink ensemble) and Naomi Campbell close (in a gown made out of translucent organza in the shade of Chocolate Dahlia). There was Liya Kebede, there was Lineisy Montero, there was Ugbad Abdi. Runway icons, veterans, and newcomers. The entire scene looked like a fairy-tale… that really took place. This couture collection again proved that colour is crucial for Pierpaolo, especially in terms of couture. “You don’t invent beauty, but you can invent new harmonies for colour”, the maestro said backstage. Just read the following: a coral coat worn with a chocolate crepe blouse and emerald gabardine pants. Lilac serape topped a pair of orange pants. Turquoise lace and tangerine silk faille. Green sequins. Pale mauve. Matisse blue. All that worked with voluminous ball gowns that took hundreds of hours to create at Valentino atelier in Rome. Unquestionably, Piccioli is a couturier of Garavani’s heights. And it’s a blessing for today’s fashion to experience his genius.
All collages by Edward Kanarecki.