PFW SS22 Haute Couture: Valentino

WITH videos of Creative Director, Pierpaolo Piccioli, in floods of tears leaving the runway and being embraced by his army of models swarming social media shortly after his Valentino Haute Couture show, it quickly became evident that the emotion that is sewn into each stitch of Piccioli’s creations is yet to wane.

The haute couture shows of the house of Valentino have become particularly notable for their theatrical decadence, their refined elegance and their presentation of a new definition of beauty, infused with a sincerity and exquisite delicacy that leaves not only Piccioli, but the audience too, in tears.

Entitled Anatomy of Couture, the show notes spoke of a desire to explore our understanding of the body of the woman and how the history of couture has upheld an often thwarted idealisation of the female.

“Driven by the urgency of rethinking the rituals and processes of Couture in order to create a canon that reflects the richness and diversity of the contemporary world and promoting an idea of beauty that is not absolute, Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli imagined this Valentino Anatomy of Couture collection not on one single and idealised house model, but on a variety of women with different body frames and ages,” the show notes read.

Piccioli adopted this line of thought when designing the many gowns for the haute couture collection, redefining the abstract concept of beauty that we have come to believe as true in order to present a truer harmony of physical types, both poetically and scientifically.

This was expressed in the form of corseted bustiers, a wide range of unusual textures, and clothing that for the majority cloaked the entirety of the body, yet simultaneously remaining flattering to the form.

It’s a clever approach that subtly alters any preconceptions of who can wear what and why. And provides the opportunity for everyone to mirror themselves in its conception.

Creamy concoctions in an hourglass cut, the satin gloves, and the sequins and beading that adorned many of the pieces glittering down the runway could all be nods to old school Hollywood glamour. When considered against the asymmetrical finishes, the neon splashes and the trouser suiting and t-shirt styling, however, your reference points become clouded. Almost, as you come to understand, in a manipulation of what is couture and what is not.

The strength of the designs and message is undeniable, especially when looking at the faces of the models wearing the pieces. Ranging in size, age, and ethnicity, Kristin McMenamy, Angeer Amol, Marie Sophie Wilson, Jill Kortleve, to name a few, offer a diverse display of beauty.

The magic of the moment is readable even in the steps they take, which are strong, oozing with a confidence that only the best of clothes can provide. Piccioli’s creations at Valentino are those.

As a designer who has strove to imbue his shows with diversity, the Valentino Haute Couture show was yet another display of how to make couture relevant and relatable. It’s a gesture of respect for the future of fashion and, referencing the show notes to conclude,“one which gives dignity to the individual by replacing the reality that includes to the abstraction that excludes.”


by Lily Rimmer

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