BY LONG NGUYEN
The Uniforms of Individuals
For a few seasons now, Pierpaolo Piccioli has led a revival of the Valentino house by espousing the heritage, essence, and spirit of haute couture as an all-encompassing narrative for the range of the brand’s products from couture to ready to wear to accessories. Piccioli instilled an emotion so firmly attached to each garment and elicited such an intense feel for the clothes that on the whole explored deeper and more elaborately the grand silhouettes, audacious colors, and impeccable craftsmanship all within the couture tradition and within a poetic frame work under the auspices of “the vocabulary, not the language, of couture changes.”
But great fashion is foremost about this change and also about sensing the right moment to evolve from a firmly grounded aesthetics. “Uniforms are usually perceived as items that erase individuality. On a closer insight, however, uniforms bring the individual to the fore. Strict and efficient, the dress disappears, while the face, the gestures and the manners are truly felt, bringing out the human being in all of his or her splendor,” said Piccioli in the printed notes. The designer couched a very commercial collection in this guise of this narrative where the familiarity of uniforms is packaged for this new era of gender fluidity and inclusion as a means to reveal the force of each individual. As a champion of diversity on his runway, the parade of models included guys wearing unisex clothes as well as plus size models paraded inside a tent next to the Invalides.
Piccioli showed a fall collection that was devoid of references in thinking, his affinity for injecting poetry and in the garment from the recent ostentatious garments starting with haute couture and flowing through ready to wear exuding a similar excitement and glamour. Gone were the voluminous silhouettes and the mixture of exuberant colors of recent seasons.
Now daywear tailoring dominated in different shades of black on black with a prominent leaner frame that spelled a more thoughtful commercially oriented collection that will surely provide the brand with the retail boost come fall – lean wool coats over wool dress, loose coat over leather strapless dress, or a simple double-breasted long coat over black pleated pants, all worn with black leather work boots rather than heels. Particular standouts were black coats and corset tops made from pieces of 3D flowers, the range of camel and black coats some with floral print and embroideries, a blue sparkling blue cropped cape top worn with black relaxed cut pants and the simple turtleneck evening column gown that closed the show. However, the few nearly sheer chiffon embroidered evening dresses in white and beige seemed out of place in a lineup that provides a strong commercial backbone for the brand this coming fall season.
Yet, fashion has to be much more than just a convincing narrative enveloping around great commercial clothes which are the necessary bread and butter greasing the wheels. At Valentino fashion has always been about encompassing the dream and the fantasy of fashion can entail.