There’s no way of speaking about this without sounding silly and girlish, but sorry, it has to be said: Valentino tonight was just utterly, lusciously all-round gorgeous. “I was thinking of paradises, about artists’ colonies of the past,” said designer Pierpaolo Piccioli. “There were reasons why artistic people went off to places like that—so they could live their identities,” he said. “Today, everyone is talking about escapism. But I don’t believe in that—l think everyone should just live their identities in the city, or wherever they are.”
Kristen McMenamy—her white-haired, elegant, individualist self—grandly led the parade in a voluminous black cotton off-the-shoulder dress. There followed lots of looks in black—each one effectively a different character sketch: an amazing slim black cotton lace dress with an asymmetric cape thrown over one shoulder; a tuxedo with a fine tulle ruffle spilling from the front; an incredible peasant dress with a bubble skirt and balloon sleeves.
Then Piccioli went wild with color: Valentino red dresses, with fine fan-pleating going on; a jersey dress with a caped top, half which somehow ran around the back and joined its skirt; something delicious in fondant pink taffeta with balloon sleeves.
The variety—all this inclusive fabulousness of shape—was breathtaking. Then followed the print: wildly joyful patterns in colors inspired by Matisse and Gauguin—printed silk velvet pajamas, a purple and green curlicued hand-painted print. Somewhere near the end came a sequined and feathered emerald and lavender column that shimmered like a dream.
In a season when there’s been so much talk about the appreciation of couture dressmaking and craft skills, Piccioli just took it to the ultimate. It was as accomplished, as complexly cut—and as simple as that.